Thursday, January 31, 2013

Invasion of the Stink Bugs (or Spring Preview)

Will someone please tell me when the Invasion of the Stink Bugs will be over? How is it we’ve made it through countless centuries without these nasty little pests reaching our shores, but now they are crawling out of every crevice? The temps around here recently scooted above 50 and it brought out the stink bugs in force.

Last night at 2am I was awoken by a stink bug crawling across my face. Yes. I know. Unbelievably disgusting. It’s amazing I didn’t put an eye out (or wake anyone) with my frantic batting, flinging, shrieking, and shaking. Then I spent the next two hours lying there wide awake leaping out of bed and searching the covers every time I imagined I felt a tiny leg or got one whiff of that lovely stink bug odor. I finally feel asleep for a few hours and when I awoke the first thing I saw was a stink bug crawling across the shade above my pillow. (I suppose my hubby is happy he’s currently on the other side of the planet for work. Otherwise he would have spent the night chasing down the real and imagined stink bugs with me.)

It gets worse. When I brushed my hair I realized the smell of stink bug was coming from me. That bug must have been nesting in my hair half the night before it felt compelled to check out my cheek bones. I’ve washed my hair and the sheets and I still have the willies.

I thought it was over, but when I picked up my water glass a few minutes ago a small gray shield shaped bug was floating in it. Will it never end? I suppose I should be happy that today’s 60 degree temps are about to give way to the high twenties again tomorrow.

Feeling powerless to overcome the tiny beasts, I did what I always do; I searched for answers on the internet. I found these ten ideas for ridding your home of stink bugs on a site called the Columbia Patch.

Here are ten ways to get rid of stink bugs:
1. Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bugs - UMD Bulletin. (We actually have a small shop vac designated for stink bugs and after vacuuming them up, empty it in the chicken pens. Chicken’s love stink bugs. Too bad mine aren’t housebroken.)
2. Cut the top of a half gallon or gallon jug, fill it with soapy water and use a piece of cardboard or a napkin to whisk the bugs into the water, which will drown them - UMD Bulletin. (I generally catch the nasty little critters with toilet tissue and flush them down the nearest toilet, but now I’m wondering if since we have a septic tank, I’m just relocating them temporarily.)
3. Seal up cracks around windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping. - UMD Home and Garden Information Center. (Last summer, my husband actually used bright blue painters tape to seal the edges of our screens. This looked horrible, but did seem to help.)

4. Take out window-unit air conditioners; stink bugs can easily get through these. - UMD HGIC. (But what about the summer when you need the a/c? Which is worse – sweating through the night or living with stink bugs in your home?)

5. Plant or move fruit trees and vegetable gardens, especially tomato plants, away from your home to prevent stink bugs from landing on the exterior of your home. - UMD HGIC. (Sorry, this ain’t happening. The gardens and fruit trees were here before the stink bugs.)

6. Squish stink bugs outdoors--the odor warns other stink bugs to flee. - Bayer Advanced insect control. (I had no idea that stink bugs were that organized.)

7. Hang a stink bug trap outside your house to catch them. - UMD Bug Guy, Mike Raupp, YouTube. (I truly believe the stink bug traps are a complete come-on for those of us feeling desperate. Save your money, if something actually worked, we’d all know about it, plus just like Japanese beetle traps it probably attracts as many new stink bugs as it kills the locals.)

8. Hang a damp towel outside your home overnight. In the morning, stink bugs will blanket the towel, and you can use a vacuum or knock them into a jug of soapy water to kill them. - Bayer Advanced (Interesting idea, but the damp towels hanging all over my bathroom and children’s floors have yet to attract a ‘blanket of stink bugs’)

9. Although most insecticides are ineffective against stink bugs, some do work, but the bug must be clearly on the label. Insecticides are never to be used indoors - UMD HGIC (Bad idea all around. Insecticides have always done more harm than good.)

10. Check your attic for holes or gaps and close them up. Stinkbugs often enter through attics - Mike Raupp, UMD Bug Guy, YouTube. (This is the best advice on this list. We did check around and discover some gaps in our crawlspace and filling them did significantly reduce the number of stink bugs getting in.)

So what’s a stink-bug-freaked-out-woman to do? Tonight I’ll scour the room with the bug vacuum and wait until I’m ready to sleep before putting on the clean sheets. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe I’ll start working on house-breaking my chickens. Seriously, I think stink bugs are here to stay and we need to find a good use for them. This little break in the weather has provided a sneak preview of what's coming this spring and if we think the worst is over, as my kids might say, "We're seriously whacked."


  1. Thank you for your post. Late night Ohio I am having his problem. For some reason theu are attracted to me while I am sleeping.

  2. I might be a little late posting to this, seeing that this was put out about 2 years ago, but there are still stink bugs getting caught in my lights. These little nuisances will just not go away! At least they are not as bad as there were when they first were introduced, but I still hate having them buzzing around and stinking up my house.

    Kristy Harrington @ Antac Pest

  3. Same thing happened to me during night!! Wokeup with one on my face!! Had to go sleep in guest room,too freaked out!! Jane,Centerville,Ohio

    1. Hey Jane - we've managed to reduce the number of bugs in the house by resealing all their main entrances (attic, crawl space) and removing the window AC unit early in the fall. I suppose they are just bugs, but still. They make me nuts! Thanks for reading!