How to Ward Off Stink Bugs in Early Fall Before They Infiltrate Midwest Homes

brown marmorated stink bug penn state entomology
Penn State Entomology Department

Stink bugs have already begun creeping into the homes of Illinois and Indiana residents, but can be warded off before more arrive in late fall and early winter.

So how can you prevent them now?

Illinois' new brown marmorated stink bugs only let off a putrid smell when threatened, according to Kelly Allsup, horticulture educator at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The best way to prevent the bugs from coming into the home is by taking steps in early fall to caulk cracks and crevices, as this is where the insects typically enter, Allsup said.

According to the Morton Arboretum, stink bugs often hide in attics and "out-of-the-way" spots. The bugs are harmless to humans, as they don't bite nor carry diseases.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture classified Illinois as "low risk" for stink bugs, Allsup wrote, and will not likely reproduce in the home.

Rather, the bugs will mate after the winter season inside and will begin laying eggs from May through August outside on the undersides of leaves, the arboretum said.

The bugs typically come around the northeastern states in the U.S. during the autumn season and are most commonly detected in urban areas from homeowners and gardeners, Allsup wrote.

All stink bugs should be handled carefully, according to the arboretum, as the insect will exude the foul smell if crushed. Stink bug traps are also available for garden areas.

Here's how to properly dispose of the insects without letting off a foul smell, according to Allsup:

  • Use a vacuum to suck up adult bugs or drop them in soapy water
  • Prevent movement in from the outside by repairing windows and putting on door sweeps
  • Perimeter spray of pyrethroids can be recommended

Allsup noted that it is not recommended to use sprays inside the home because insecticide residues are reportedly ineffective in providing pest control.

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