You may wrinkle your nose reading this one, but stink bugs are a definite nuisance in the US, especially from March to September.
If you are unsure of what stink bugs look like – They are tiny, brown pests that may be hidden away in the corners of your home, garage, or basement. They also like hanging around the garden, lawn, and backyard. Signs of stink bugs invading your precious vegetable patch or plants are circular scars. They can damage fruits, crops, buds, pods, and vegetables extensively.
Stink bugs are native to Asia and were introduced by accident in the United States in 1990. They have since evolved to become quite a nuisance to many.
For years, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, state pesticide agencies, educational institutes, industry, and farmers, have been fighting stink bugs via a solid and sustainable pest management solution. A decade ago, a special insecticide was produced to manage stink bugs made from natural botanical ingredients.
How to recognize stink bugs
Stink bugs are shaped like those old-time shields you see in war movies. They have been named “stinkbugs” owing to the odor that they produce when subjected to threats in their external environment. The chemical is produced by glands present on their abdomen and is a defense mechanism that gives them their characteristic name.
Stink bugs can grow to as much as 2 centimeters in length, depending on the species. And much to our horror – these menaces are winged and capable of flying quite well, much like the next most common pest in America – cockroaches. The unpleasant odor, their size and ability to fly makes them unwelcome visitors in American households.
Stink Bugs – How they get into homes
As temperatures drop, stink bugs get triggered by seasonal cues to search for warm places to spend the winter – called “overwintering sites.” It is around this time when they invade our homes.
The temperature and lessened exposure to sunlight cause these bugs to scuttle around in search of cover. They gather in groups and spend winters hiding in the crawl spaces of your residence, even in the attic or inside the walls. Stink bugs are also referred to as “cat-facing insects” because they feed on different kinds of ornamental plants, leaving scars that resemble a cat’s face. They could therefore also enter through your garden or lawns.
Stink bugs reproduce throughout the year but are usually dormant during winters when they hide from the temperatures outside. If you don’t find these pests lurking around your doors and windows as winters start to settle in, you might find a couple when temperatures get warm again.
When they get inside a house, stink bugs begin an invasion that lasts all winter long. They are explorers, and you might see a few scuttling around warm places like your bed or couch.
On the bright side, stink bugs do not bite, eat or reproduce indoors. They seek warmer conditions until temperatures rise again. But once springs arrive and you spot even a few, this could mean that an entire nest awaits you in some dark corners of your house.
Where exactly do stink bugs hide?
You will find stink bugs (dead or alive) in places that are covered and warm, like areas in the living room. These pests hide in covered, safe places that are not exposed but will step out on sunny days.
If you have found a couple around your house and are looking for more, consider examining the eaves, vents, door frames, and window frames that face outdoors. These places provide exposure to sunlight but also cover when temperatures get cooler.
Indoors, stink bugs are most likely to squeeze themselves into areas that are undisturbed like hollow curtain rods, folds in drapes, attics, false ceilings, crevices, cracks, and voids. As the heat kicks in, these pests will come out of hiding and create a nuisance that you can most definitely avoid with the following measures.
How can you prevent a stink bug infestation?
Once an insect or two find an ideal spot for overwintering, they release pheromones which beckon a larger army of bugs to find them and join the party. The moment this happens, managing the infestation indoors becomes a problem.
To stop these scampering monstrosities from entering your home, there are several preventative measures that you can take. These include:
Conduct thorough inspections of screens
Inspect all the screens present in your home, doors, and windows. Check for any holes that may be relatively new and require patchwork. Ensure that the screen is tightly fitted and run them with dryer sheets to help keep the bugs away.
Check all the doors
Make sure you do not have any holes or points of entry indoors. Inspect the weather stripping and sweep all the doors, including the rubber seals that some garage doors may have. If you do find holes, consider replacing them at the earliest.
Use caulking to replace any cracked seals around windows, doors, and utility entry points. Caulk all cracks that you find in joints where materials of two different kinds meet, such as concrete and wood.
This one is not for the faint of heart. However, studies have indicated that squishing a few stink bugs that have gathered will repel any others gathered indoors. While the strong cilantro smell with notes of damp laundry might make you gag, squishing a couple of bugs can deter any other present within your space.
Landscape all outdoor property
An essential tip that is often ignored, ensuring that all your shrubbery and branches are well-trimmed, can effectively reduce exposure to stink bugs. If you collect firewood, ensure that the wood is stored at a minimum of 20 feet from the house and at least 5 inches over the ground.
Keep your space thoroughly ventilated
All of the crawl spaces present in your house, including the garages, basements, attics, and any additional rooms, need to be thoroughly ventilated. You may even consider using a dehumidifier in these darker, less-frequented areas. This can play an essential role in creating less-than-inviting conditions for any stink bugs who decide to make a home for themselves in space. If you have vents in your house that lead outdoors, such as in attics and chimneys, ensure that you have screens covering the openings as required.
Take a look through all your belongings
Inspect every item before you get it into your home. Go over every container, box, or bag, and look through the contents to ensure no stink bugs tagging along. These critters are very likely to hop into grocery bogs or delivery boxes and make their way into your home. Keeping an eye out for these before bringing any goods in can be a useful preventative measure to take.
Once inside, stink bugs tend to collect in groups in tight spaces. So once you do find a bug on the move indoors, you can consider employing the following techniques to eliminate them.
How To Get Rid of Stink Bugs
Use a Night Light
Fill a wide pan with water and soap solution and place the dish in a room that you suspect has the most stink bugs. Hang a small light over the dish and leave this DIY contraption overnight. The bugs will flock to the light and fall into the water, eventually drowning.
For bad infestations, homeowners can consider purchasing a vacuum that is specific for stink bug use. This is available online or in specific pest control shops. A regular vacuum cleaner with a bag attachment works as well. Once you have vacuumed the space, dispose of the bag immediately, or you might find yourself in a stinking mess.
While this one is not aesthetically pleasing, using fly-tape can help catch these critters as they fly from one place to another, effectively trapping them. You can then dispose of the tape and use fresh rolls again if necessary.
In addition to all of these above DIY tips to remove stink bug infestations, consider employing professional pest control services. Such services can eliminate any house bug infestations, including dreaded cockroach nests.
Keeping these tips in mind can go a long way in the proper elimination of unwanted pests. Maintaining your outdoor shrubbery and ensuring that no vents are leading indoors can prevent stink bug infestations. Note that these bugs look for overwintering places when temperatures get chilly, so conduct thorough inspections of all screens, doors, and windows around fall.
You can even consider opting for a thorough cleaning and check of your house professionally by reputed service providers. Choosing the methods that work best for you can help significantly in reducing your residence’s exposure to these pests.
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