University of Maryland Extension

Stink bugs, stink bugs, stink bugs!

Image Credit: 
G. Hamilton, Rutgers

Stink bugs, stink bugs, stink bugs! After a relatively uneventful summer stink bug-wise, these critters are finally showing up in droves as they seek cozy places to overwinter. At the Extension Office, we’ve been receiving lots of calls from concerned homeowners about how to control the hundreds—or even thousands—of brown marmorated stink bugs on their porches, garage doors, and window screens. Unfortunately there is no easy answer, but we can offer a few suggestions.

At this time of year, stink bugs are being drawn to homes because they are seeking overwintering sites. Bugs on or near your home will come in any crack they can find. Now is the time to check your window screens, weather stripping in doors, attic vents, etc. and make repairs. Caulk cracks, place screens over openings, and do your best to prevent them from coming inside.

Stink bugs will not cause damage to your house, but they are a nuisance, especially when present in large numbers. Bugs that get inside will be dormant over the winter but will become active in your house when weather warms next spring.

Stink bugs also produce an aggregation pheromone. When one bug determines your house is a good overwintering site, it releases this pheromone, encouraging other bugs to come to the same site. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to attempt some type of outdoor control as well. No matter how well you caulk, screen, and seal up your house, some stink bugs will still find a way inside!

Commercial insecticides are an option. A professional pest control company may be able to provide service; there are also some insecticides that you can buy and use yourself. If you are considering insecticides, act fast as these must be used when the bugs first appear. For insecticide recommendations, visit this Rutgers website

Manual removal, while tedious, is probably the most effective option we have at this time. Some sources recommend removal with a shop vacuum, although this will likely cause the vacuum to smell like stink bugs. Removing the bugs by hand and placing them in soapy water is another method. Or, as reported in a September 25 article by, some people are “using manure shovels and 5-gallon buckets to dispose of them.” Hopefully your infestation isn’t this bad! 

There is not much scientific evidence showing that light or pheromone traps are effective in this situation. I’ve heard both favorable and unfavorable reports of these products from homeowners who have tried them. Research in attractant traps is ongoing, so hopefully we will have some effective traps in the coming years.


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