The chances are you’ve also experienced it, too: you’re sitting on your back porch, enjoying your favorite meal or drink, and you notice a creepy brown insect. You squash it, and it releases one of the most foul smells you’ve ever come across!
Too bad! You’ve just killed a stink bug, and however hard you try to wash it, the stench won’t come off easily. The good news is that stink bug odor won’t harm you but will need to be removed nevertheless.
This article will discuss everything about stink bugs, including what they are, why they smell, and how to remove the odor from your hands, clothes, pets, etc.
Let’s get started!
What is a stink bug?
Stink bugs or shield bugs are pests believed to have originated from various east Asian countries, including Taiwan, China, South Korea, and Japan. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies stink bugs as invasive species, alongside fruit flies and hornets.
These bugs resemble the boxelder bugs and were accidentally introduced to the U.S through a shipping transportation system. You can expect to find them mainly in the mid-Atlantic region.
Thousands of species of stink bugs exist globally, with over 200 in the United States and Canada. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) are the most common in the United States and were first discovered in the late 1990s in North America.
Unlike ants and cockroaches, you won’t find Brown Marmorated stink bugs in your food sources. Instead, you’ll find them on house plants, ornamental shrubs like sunflowers, and other host plants, trying to suck the plant juices and destroying their beauty.
Adult stink bugs prefer warm places or warm weather and are thus more active in the spring and summer seasons. As the seasons change to winter, there will be no bug problem as the bugs become inactive due to the cold winter months and don’t reproduce.
The porch light also attracts the bugs, so if you have powerful light in your home, the chances are that they’ll be hiding there.
Why do stink bugs smell?
The stink bugs smell for a reason; they release the unpleasant odor and smell as a defense mechanism. The foul odor is meant to discourage and ward off predators when they are disturbed or threatened.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs release the bad-smelling fluid through its scent glands. Unlike bed bugs that stink when squashed, the stink bug sprays the smelly fluid to cover several inches when you disturb, stress, or threaten it.
What do the stink bugs smell like?
Knowing how the stink bugs smell will help you tell when the insects are in your house. Different individuals describe the smell of the stink bug differently.
Generally, what you detect from the odor will differ depending on the stink bug species and your olfactory senses. For instance, some people describe the fluid released by stink bugs as fermenting sour apple, while others state it’s like a skunk emission or burn tires.
How long does the stink bug smell last?
The stink bug odor will last for several hours when you aggressively interact or squash them. However, the smell will last for a shorter time if you remove it soon enough.
Is the stink bug smell dangerous on skin and plants?
The stink bug odor is not dangerous to the skin but can irritate a selected few individuals who are allergic to the fluid. However, the fluid has an unpleasant smell that most people can’t handle or perceive.
The stink bugs are not harmful to your skin, hands, house, pets, or clothes. The bugs don’t bite, and their secretion isn’t toxic but will be sticky to your pets or clothes.
However, the pests are dangerous to indoor plants and can cause plant structural damage without proper stink bug control measures. The bug attacks garden produce and will lead to total losses of tomato plantations.
The bugs may also cause agricultural damage to beans, green peppers, and fruits like peaches and berries. Generally, the destruction of crops and the odor produced are the most severe stink bugs’ effects you should worry about.
How do I remove the stink bug smell?
Although the stink bugs won’t harm you, your pets, or your clothes, their smell can be unbearable. The good news is you have numerous ways to get rid of the stink bug smell.
Below are ways you can use to remove the unpleasant odor:
Method #1: Scrub the affected surface
If you mistakenly squash the stink bug with your hand, the best way to get rid of the foul smell is to scrub the affected area repeatedly. Scrub the surface you squashed the bug against to remove the unpleasant odor if it’s in the house.
You may scrub the affected surfaces as directed below:
- Scrub using toothpaste and warm water: Apply little toothpaste to the affected spot and rub it using your fingers. Then, wash and rinse off your hands with warm water.
- Use lemon juice or other juices: Pour the juice into a bowl and use it to scrub the affected area. Then, rinse your skin using warm water, and the smell will be gone.
Method #2: Ventilate the room
Ventilation is one of the simplest yet effective ways of removing the unpleasant smell from your house. Let fresh air replace the stale, unpleasant smell in your home by opening as many windows and doors as possible.
You may also create a mixture of baking soda, mild dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide to deodorize your furnishings.
Method #3: Use odor eliminators
If the stink bug’s foul smell is stuck inside your home, the best way to remove it is to overpower it. And creating your own strong odor eliminator is the best bet you have.
To do this:
- Soak a cotton ball in peppermint and lemon extract
- Put the damp cotton ball into a glass jar with a lid and holes drilled at the top
You may also use several fresh, unused coffee grounds. Put them in clean pantyhose and hang them in the room – they’ll also work perfectly to kick out the foul smell.
Method 4: Prevent the stink bugs from getting to your house
The easiest and most effective method to keep the stink bug smell from your house is to stop them from entering your house. The national pest management association offers simple yet effective techniques that an average homeowner can use to ward off these agricultural pests. They include:
Examine the entry points:
A good place to start preventing bugs from getting into your house is checking all the possible entry points and sealing them. Give special attention to door and window frames, exterior wood sidings, electrical outlets, light fixtures, and fix any broken window pane.
Seal up any crawl spaces using caulk (a silicone-based formula), or call in a professional to fix the larger entry points.
If you still notice the stink bugs in your home even after sealing the possible entry points, it may be time to use chemicals. Most chemical sprays have deltamethrin, a pesticide product that kills stink bugs.
Use a spray bottle to apply the bug spray around the windows, door frames, and other possible points of entry. However, be careful handling chemicals, as most of them can be harmful.
Pest control professionals also recommend rubbing your window sills and window screens with pungent dryer sheets and draping a damp paper towel over a lawn chair to attract bugs and dispose of them in soapy water.
Assess your exterior lighting:
As mentioned above, stinks bugs are attracted to light. To keep the insects away, switch out the exterior light bulbs for sodium-vapor lights or yellow bulbs, which are less attractive to these household pests.
You may also use a light trap to catch the home stink bugs. Put a powerful light in your backyard, and the pests will come out, then pick them up using a bagless vacuum.
Try home remedies
You may also use natural elements in your home to keep off or trap the stink bugs. For instance, a simple combination of dish soap, hot water, and white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide helps ward off and trap stink bugs.
Fill a spray bottle with 1 cup of white vinegar or 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide, 2 cups of hot water, and ½ cup of dish soap, and spray the bugs.
Using Essential oils like mint is a natural method to keep stink bugs away. Mint produces a strong aroma that stink bugs hate, thus, acting as a repellent.
Using vacuum cleaner:
You may also get rid of the stink bugs from your home using a vacuum cleaner. Here is how you do it:
- If you see a shield bug in your house, do not touch or squash it, as it will produce an unpleasant smell.
- Grab them gently using a plastic bag and take them outside to kill them. Alternatively, you can also flush the dead stink bugs in the toilet.
- Vacuum them using a vacuum cleaner (if you have one). Once you’ve sucked up the bugs, remove the vacuum bag and put it in the outdoor trash.
This is an easy technique to dispose of the bugs from your home.
Enlist the help of an expert:
If the stink bug infestation doesn’t end in your home, it might be time to contact reliable and knowledgeable pest control experts. These individuals have developed the most effective and lasting stink bug removal solutions for residents.
How do I remove the stink bug smell on clothes and pets?
Yes, the stink bug’s foul odor can get into your clothes and pets! The tiny insects spray their defensive bad-smelling fluid, and if it’s you or your pet they’re defending themselves from, you’ll get hit.
The best thing is that there different ways to remove the smell from your clothes or pets. For instance, you may wash your clothes or pets, and the unpleasant odor will come off easily.
If the unpleasant fluid gets to your furniture or other fabric items, you may use a vacuum cleaner to remove the stink.
The bottom line
Although the stink bug smell can cause severe nuisance or be offensive, it’s not dangerous. Of course, getting the smell does mean you have stink bugs in your home, and that’s a problem you’ll need to handle.
This post provides several methods to eliminate the stink bug smell from your home, hands, clothes, and pets. It also equips the reader with some of the best techniques to prevent the stink bug pest infestation.
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