how to get rid of stink bugs in the garage
Tips & Tricks

How to Keep Stink Bugs Away

Stink bugs are notorious for their smelly reputation and are aptly named because of the odor they release when they sense a threat or when crushed. The bugs feed on crops, fruits, and plants; therefore, making them a significant threat to farmers. They can also damage and render some crops and fruits unfit for sale.

While stink bugs often spend winter holed up outdoors, they will also seek shelter in warm structures such as your home to escape the chilly winter months. The bugs, just like flies, don’t bite, munch clothing, or raid the pantry; however, they have one major problem, they stink!

Stink bugs release a foul smell when threatened or disturbed. While in the wild, this odor helps keep predators away; however, if they find their way to your home, the stink will linger past the time the bug might be dead because it clings to whatever the insect touches.

Here is how to keep stink bugs away naturally:

So what Attracts Stink Bugs to Your House?

Stink bugs may be attracted to your house due to various reasons. Here are some of them:

They Are Seeking Shelter

As the temperatures drop, you’ll probably notice more stink bugs in your house. They often come inside to seek shelter for diapause, which is a period in their life cycle when they’re inactive. They are not seeking warmth as most people think. If it’s warm outside, then the bugs are not diapausing.

A stink bug diapauses because, in nature, there isn’t enough food for it to eat during that time. Therefore, this period allows the bug’s metabolism to slow down to become dormant.

Your House Is Made of Natural Materials

When stink bugs go into diapause in nature, they often do it under the bark of a dead tree or hang under a big, rocky crevice. Therefore, if you have a dark home with natural siding, stink bugs might think it’s their usual hangout spot, making them stick there.

A Scent Trail Might Be Tipping Them Off

A stink bug releases a pheromone when it finds a good spot to shelter. Unfortunately, this chemical attracts other stink bugs to that location, and they invade your home.

Loose Entry Points Give Them Easy Access

Stink bugs can get into your home if it has a lot of entry points. They often sneak inside through crevices, cracks, holes, and gaps in foundations and roofs. They can also access your home through door frames and windows.

Your Home Has Lots of Lights

Stink bugs are attracted to bright lights. Therefore, if you’re dealing with a stink bug problem, it might be a great idea to turn off the exterior lights at night and pull your blinds before you head to bed.

You Live Near a Rural, Green Space

Stink bugs are herbivores; therefore, you’re most likely to find them in orchards, shrubs, agricultural fields, and extensive gardens. Therefore, if you live near these spaces, the bugs will move from their usual locations to your warmer house.

How Do You Get Rid of Stink Bugs?

If you already have stink bugs in your home, you can take a few steps to get rid of them. The measures are a combination of both preventative and removal efforts.

Seal Entryways

You might have to seal the entryways if you want to get rid of stink bugs. Start by looking for cracks around windows, vents, utility boxes, and door frames. When you find them, seal them up with foam sealant, caulk, sweeps, mesh screens, weather stripping tape, or whatever suitable material for that particular area.

It will also help to ensure that siding and pipes are also secure. Additionally, it’s advisable to close the flue if you’re not using it if you have a fireplace. Doing so might help prevent stink bugs from entering your home using that route.

Vacuum Often

If you spot stink bugs around your home, you can use your vacuum to suck them up. This method is the easiest and cleanest way of getting rid of the bugs, and you can always empty the vacuum afterward. However, it would help if you were prepared because your vacuum may smell like stink bugs for some time.

Stink Bug Traps

A homemade stink bug trap could effectively get rid of stink bugs. However, the effectiveness could depend on the severity and scale of your stink bug infestation. Here is how you can make the traps:

DIY Soap Trap

You can make a DIY soap trap using this procedure:

  • Use a desk lamp with black, white, or blue light to bring the bugs to a specific location where you’re setting the trap. The bugs are naturally attracted to these types of light and other particular pheromones.
  • Put a pan of soapy water underneath the desk lamp. The bugs should begin to come to the pan after about 12 hours. The soapy water will kill the bugs.

DIY Towel Trap

Follow this procedure to make a DIY towel trap for stink bugs:

  • First, soak a towel in water and ring it out so it’s damp.
  • Then, hang the towel in an open area, ideally away from your home.
  • The stink bugs should congregate on the towel to drink the water, and the next day you’ll have a nice collection of them.
  • Kill the stink bugs by dunking the entire towel in a bucket of soapy water.
  • Be sure to wash the towel thoroughly before using it for anything else.

It’s best to place traps where stink bugs are most likely to congregate. Remember that these insects tend to form nests outside during the summer months and inside during the winter. While the traps are pesticide-free, they are only effective for more minor scale problems.

If you’re dealing with stink bugs on a larger scale, you could use stink bug traps for different environments that use electricity, smells, and sticky surfaces.

Soapy Water

You can also invert the top of a plastic water bottle, put soapy water inside it, scoop up the bugs, and let them fall in and drown. Once they die, you can throw them in a sealed bag in the trash, return them into the environment, or add them to your compost pile.

Wash Your Plants

Spray your tomato plants or apple trees with water directly when you spot a stink bug on them. The water will physically force the bugs from the plants. You can also mix some mild dish soap with the water, and the solution will help break down the stink bugs’ exoskeletons and dehydrate them.

If you’re looking for a more long-term solution, you can mix water with vegetable oil, olive oil, or lavender oil. Use a garden sprayer or a regular spray bottle to apply this treatment, which will serve as a deterrent.

Fly Tape at Entryways

While using fly tape to get rid of stink bugs isn’t the prettiest of methods, strips of fly tape spread on windowsills and other entryways will help catch the critters.

Sticky Pad

You can cover a dry sweep mop head with a sticky lint remover sheet and use it as a long-handled stink bug catcher. This method is also perfect for grabbing any-high climbing bugs.  

You might be tempted to eliminate stink bugs with pesticides; however, it’s better if you don’t. There is no one area to spray the chemicals; hence, spraying it can be potentially harmful, especially if you have kids and pets running around.

What Scents Repel Stink Bugs?

Stink bugs repellent might be your best option of keeping them away from your home because they are very sensitive to smell.

You can repel them by using scents that they hate, such as the following:

  • Lemongrass oil
  • Clove oil
  • Dryer sheets]
  • Rosemary
  • Wintergreen
  • Spearmint

However, it’s best to understand that scents might not be as reliable and effective as other deterrents, such as physically sealing your home to keep the bugs away. You will also have to reapply the scents frequently to enable them to work how they are supposed to and keep the bugs at bay.

Here are some popular scents that you can use to repel stink bugs:

Cloves to Keep Stink Bugs Away

Clove oil is excellent at deterring stink bugs from baited traps. The main ingredient in clove oil, called eugenol, is the chemical responsible for repelling stink bugs. Here is how to use clove oil to keep stink bugs away:

  • Dilute clove oil with water to make a spray mixture. For every cup of water, add about 10 to 15 drops of clove oil. Use a glass spray bottle for this purpose.
  • Spray the mixture outside on window frames, doorways, or other areas where stink bugs might get inside. You can also spray the mixture directly on plants if you have a stink bug problem in your garden.

What Essential Oils Keep Stink Bugs Away?

In addition to clove oil, there are some other essential oils scents to ensure that stink bugs aren’t attracted to your space. You can use the following scents to repel the bugs:

  • Lemon essential oil
  • Lemongrass essential oil
  • Wintergreen essential oil
  • Spearmint essential oil
  • Geranium essential oil
  • Pennyroyal essential oil
  • Rosemary essential oil
  • Mint essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Eucalyptus essential oil

All the above oils will work well in keeping bugs away; however, they vary in scents. Therefore, you might wish to use essential oil that you enjoy the smell of. You can also test out different fragrances to determine which one is your favorite.

Look for trusted brands when choosing essential oils to ensure that they are good quality. Don’t be tempted to include fillers of any kind. You can repel stink bugs with essential oils using these methods:

Homemade Stink Bug Spray

You can use any of the above listed essential oils to make a stink bug spray by following this procedure:

  • Add about 20 to 25 drops of any essential oils listed above to 2 cups of warm water. You can also opt for a combination of several essential oils, depending on your preference.
  • Shake the mixture well.
  • You can spray the mixture to any stink bugs you see. However, it’s best to remember that it will probably invite more if there’s one stink bug.
  • If you want to use the mixture as a repellant, spray it to any areas of entry that might be of concern, such as doorways, windows, baseboards, or cracks in the foundation.

Stink Bug Bombs

You can also make stink bug bombs using essential oils to help keep stink bugs away. Here is how to do it:

  • Put 10 to 12 drops of any essential oil listed above on a cotton ball.
  • Place the cotton ball at entry points such as doorways, windows, crawl spaces, and cabinets.
  • Replace the cotton every few days or as the scent subsides.

However, be sure to avoid this method if you have pets or small children.

Use Garlic to Repel Stink Bugs

Water and garlic solution is an effective bug repellent. You can make the garlic stink bug repellent by following these steps:

  • Combine two cups of warm water with four tablespoons of garlic powder.
  • Fill a spray bottle with the water and garlic solution.
  • Spray around your garden, window sill, and doors to repel stink bugs

It’s best to spray the solution every few days if you want optimum effectiveness.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are among the most tried and historic homemade pest repellents. They are a pretty effective stink bug deterrent because their odor will repel the bugs. In addition, you can rub the sheets on window screens or at other entry points to help keep the bugs at bay.

Does Peppermint Oil Repel Stink Bugs?

While several websites claim that peppermint oil can repel any bug, the truth is that it’s a weak repellent against stink bugs. However, peppermint oil is excellent at repelling other creepy crawlers such as gnats and ticks.

Which Plants Repel Stink Bugs?

Plants that repel stink bugs are a natural way of preventing the bugs from infesting your garden or home. Here are some of the plants that repel stink bugs:

Garlic

Garlic has a powerful scent, and stink bugs can’t stand such a strong odor. Therefore, you’re never going to find them hanging around in a garden next to garlic plants. The best thing is that you can always plant garlic in pots and keep them on your balcony to help repel the critters.

Catnip

Catnip is a member of the mint family, and it’s also known as Nepeta cataria. It’s a herb that humans do not consume, yet people still grow it in their homes, especially if they own a cat because they go crazy about it.

Catnip leaves contain a compound known as Nepetalactone, which cats find oddly appealing. The compound works as a defense chemical against insects and pathogens due to its bitter taste. However, while cats find it very attractive, stink bugs will not because the scent is too repelling and empowering; therefore, they won’t want to be anywhere near catnip.

Check this too: How to Keep Spiders Out of a Garage

The plant is pretty easy to grow and requires very little care. However, it’s best to understand that it can be invasive; therefore, you’ll need to control its spread.

Thyme

Thyme is a staple in most kitchens due to its powerful, summery scent. While this scent appeals to most people, it’s also excellent at keeping stink bugs away. It doesn’t require any special treatment to grow; therefore, you can plant it in your garden or a pot.

The best thing is that the plant can also withstand winter conditions, and it’s not invasive. Therefore, you can plant it next to your cabbages, tomatoes, or whichever plants in your garden that stink bugs are attracted to.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum will keep stink bugs and other pests at bay because they are a natural source of insecticide. They contain a compound called pyrethrin that occurs naturally in the seed cases of chrysanthemum flowers, and it attacks the nervous systems of insects.

Pyrethrin, a natural ingredient, is extracted and used in repelling sprays, garden insecticides, and pet shampoos. However, its synthesized form can be harmful to the environment; therefore, planting chrysanthemums is an eco-friendly option that will work well at keeping pests, including stinking bugs, away.

Lavender

Lavender has a long history of use in cosmetics, medicine, and cuisine. Most people like the smell of lavender; however, bugs, including stink bugs, can’t stand the scent of lavender.

If you can’t plant herbs, you can use essential oils or dried lavender to repel stink bugs.

Mint

Stink bugs seem to dislike every herb in the sage family, including mint, the most popular one. Bugs and other insects often choose to stay away from this herb regardless of whether it’s peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, or any other species.

Mint is also an excellent companion herb, which you can plant next to your vegetable crops to keep them safe from pests. In addition, the plants are strong pollinators; therefore, growing them will help pollinate and repel bugs and insects.

The best thing about mint is that you can grow it wherever you want, including indoors, in the garden, or in pots.

Marigold

Marigolds are colorful tiny flowers that bloom in various shades ranging from white to deep red. However, marigolds’ popularity doesn’t lie solely in their beauty; they have a musky smell that repels common pests, including stink bugs.

You will often see people plant them close to eggplant, tomato, chili pepper, tobacco, and potato crops. Additionally, the flowers are also an excellent source of nectar for bumblebees and butterflies; therefore, planting them helps increase the population of the pollinating insects.

Caring for marigolds is a pretty simple task because they will blossom as long as they have well-draining soil and at least six hours of sunlight.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a staple in most kitchens, and you can’t enjoy some meals without this spice. But unfortunately, it has a solid and specific scent that stink bugs and other annoying insects seem to hate.

If you live in warmer areas where winter temperatures do not go below 0, you can plant rosemary in the garden, and it will eventually grow into a beautiful large bush. However, if you live in colder climates, you can grow it in pots so that you can take it indoors when temperatures drop to below 0 degrees.

Radishes

Planting radishes in your garden will help repel stink bugs. However, stink bugs are not interested in radishes and are likely to ignore other plants planted near them.

Nasturtium

Nasturtiums are perennial plants with very colorful flowers. These plants can either be bushy or climbing, and both types will look amazing in your garden. Nasturtiums are among the most commonly used companion plants because they repel all kinds of insects, including stink bugs.

However, it would help if you didn’t worry because they don’t affect bees. On the contrary, bees are attracted to these flowers. Do not fret if you don’t have a garden because the plants grow well in containers.

What Does Vinegar Do to Stink Bugs?

Vinegar is one of the best ingredients for making a pest control spray. It’s effective in repelling many pests due to its acidity. Creating a mixture using vinegar is pretty simple and is considered safe for pets and humans.

It’s best to understand the following if you’re thinking of using vinegar to keep stink bugs away:

  • Vinegar is not as effective as a stand-alone treatment against severe cases of stink bug infestation because it won’t penetrate the hard casings that protect bug eggs.
  • It’s not capable of repelling stink bugs out of your property.

Despite its weaknesses discussed above, you can still mix vinegar and dish soap to make an effective solution to get rid of stink bugs. Here is how to do it:

  • Add two cups of hot water, a half cup of dish soap, and one cup of white vinegar into a spray bottle.
  • Put on the bottle’s lid and swirl to combine the ingredients.
  • Use the solution to spray the stink bugs directly.

If you opt to use the above vinegar spray to get rid of stink bugs, you’ll have to wipe up surfaces afterward.

Check this too: How to Clean Bird Poop off the Deck

What Do Stink Bugs Eat?

Most stink bugs feed on plants. The first generation during spring often feeds on grasses or weeds. As the bugs develop into adults, they migrate into orchards, fields, and residential landscapes.

While in these environments, stink bugs will feed on apples, berries, peaches, pecans, and beans. Stink bugs also feed on field crops such as cotton and sorghum. When they’re around homes, they feed on ornamental plants.

When the bugs feed on fruits like apples or peaches, they use their mouth to pierce the fruit’s skin. During this feeding process, the bug injects a small amount of saliva into the fruit, which is very toxic to the cells of the fruit. Therefore, when the damaged fruit grows, it develops a scar that causes the fruit to resemble the face of a cat; hence, some people call stink bugs “cat-facing insects.”

The bugs also feed on the leaves and stems of plants. In addition to making fruit unfit for sale, stink bug feeding secondarily allows other insects to enter the fruit. They can also spread serious plant diseases in gardens, orchards, and farms.

It’s best to understand that a few stink bugs don’t feed on plants. Instead, they are predators of insects that attack plants. They mainly feed on root weevils, velvet bean caterpillars, southern green stink bugs, and Colorado potato beetles. Due to these feeding patterns, most consider the predatory stink bugs beneficial.

Although they don’t bite or munch clothing, stink bugs can be a nuisance. The tips above should help you repel or get rid of them. You should consider calling in professional pest controllers if you’re facing a stink bug invasion or all your efforts to get rid of them have failed.

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