How to deal with stink bugs indoors


The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys is a shield shaped invasive bug from Asia that has become a serious agricultural pest in central New York over the last few years.

The adult is between ½” and ¾” in length and are distinguished from some 2000 species native to North America by their mottled brown color and bodies that are almost as wide as they are long.

Another identifier is the white band found on the antenna. Unlike their native brethren the BMSB is posing a real problem for growers in that few effective pesticides are labeled for use against the BMSB.

The insect was first detected in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1990’s and it’s widely conjectured the BMSB arrived on overseas shipments from Asia, as they are native to China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

By 2003 BMSB were detected in western Maryland. They got as far as the Hudson Valley by 2007. Currently the BMSB is considered a serious problem by the US Department of Agriculture in the nine states from North Carolina up through Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York.

Today they have been documented in 43 states and two Canadian provinces.

The good news, if any, is that BMSB do not seem to be a threat to human health, they don’t bite, nor do they cause any structural damage. Stinkbugs have sucking and piercing mouthparts. They suck juice from fruits and cause significant damage to plants.

The bad news is that BMSB has become a severe agricultural pest in all the central Atlantic states including New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The apple is one of their favorite foods and it was inevitable that they would make their way to our region. You can be sure that the agricultural scientists are working overtime to come up with a viable chemical treatment to help the farmers.

The common name of this bug is associated with its odor - a metallic odor that one does not easily forget. The stinkbug produces the smelly chemical in a gland from their abdomen. The stinkbug emits the defensive odor when it feels threatened or injured, which attracts more stinkbugs. In other words, never hit the stinkbug with a fly swatter because you will have more stinkbugs in the area that the event occurred.

When the cold temperatures arrive, the stinkbug seeks out warmer areas, usually found in our homes.

The best defense to keep this bug out of your house by sealing all opens areas, even the smallest of cracks can be an entryway for a stinkbug. They seem to love attic spaces and places with a little moisture.

Damp leaf matter up against a warm basement window is an ideal fall hide out. But as the weather continues to get colder, they will search out any way inside the home. About the size of dime and rather flat in profile the BMSB can squeeze through very small of cracks.

Loose storm windows, louvered attic ventilation and chimneys are perfect entry points for the little pests. As with just about everything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and the same is true with the stinkbug. A crack that lets in a draft is a potential entry for the bug so as we winterize our homes caulk and weather stripping with this little insect in mind.

Once they are in the home, we are forced to deal with them one by one.

When a stinkbug enters the home, the best way to get rid of the insect is to either with a vacuum and dispose of the contents immediately or as Smithsonian Institute states, to place the contents in the freezer to kill the stink bugs. If you choose to utilize your vacuum to rid your home of stink bugs be aware, when you use the vacuum in other parts of your home, you may detect the odor attracts other stinkbugs.

We had an infestation in our home when we lived in Virginia. Our first year in the home in Virginia was terrible. What seemed to work the best was wiping the walls with a diluted aromatic cleaner.

I used Pine-Sol every couple of weeks to wipe the walls. Now this will not eliminate the stinkbugs and stinkbugs like to go to the light, so we would leave the hall light on in the evening, but we also had a coffee container with two cups of diluted bleach at our bedside, basically 1:1 ratio of water and bleach. When we heard the stinkbug clumsily fly, we would open the coffee-can and place or flick the bug in the coffee can and seal. It sounds gross and it is gross, but I would rather have a dead stinkbug.

Please note, using chemicals inside is not a good practice. However, your IPM Specialist will assist if an infestation is in your home.

For more information view our website at or call our horticulture hotline on Wednesday and Friday between the hours of 9AM to noon, 315 736 3394.


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