How to Repel Stink Bugs

The small brown critters can become quite a nuisance in larger numbers.

Stink bugs are seasonal pests that enter our homes as the weather begins to cool. Their angular shape and unique brown marbling make them easily identifiable—and yes, they do emit a foul smell when provoked. While they're relatively harmless, they can be quite destructive in large numbers. Ahead, how to keep them out of and away from your residence.

They've earned their odorous title.

The brown marmorated stink bug gets its name from the terrible smell it produces; some folks compare the odor to rotten cherries. "They squirt when threatened and when they emerge from their overwintering site as a way to 'mark their spot' so they know where to return in the fall," explains Matthew Mills, a licensed pest control expert, the CEO of green pest manufacturer Med-X, and the creator Nature-Cide.

They want to turn your home into their winter hideout.

You likely see more of these critters when your thermometer's mercury drops, and that's because stink bugs like to congregate in homes and businesses to get through the cold-weather season together (though they do often get confused by warmer winter days), says Mills. This means you want to start prepping your home for their arrival before summer comes to an end.

Macro Photo of stink Bug on The Edge of The Leaf
Backiris / Getty Images

Apply repellant strategically.

The best way to prevent a stink bug infestation? Treat any place where air could be exhausting out of the home around the perimeter, explains Mills. "This could include eaves, louvers, and spots around bathroom, kitchen, and dryer vents," he says. "Stink bugs are not true southern exposure intruders, such as boxelder beetles and ladybugs. They will look for any place where warmer air could be leaking from the building." Luckily, there are plenty of pesticides that will prevent stink bugs from crawling inside. Mills recommends insecticidal dust to homeowners who want to try a DIY approach.

Call a professional.

Because stink bugs may try to enter your home in various locations—including some that may be too high or treacherous for the average homeowner to get to—Mills says you're better off hiring a professional to manage your problem. "Professionals not only have the best products for the job, but also the equipment necessary to reach places that could be dangerous for homeowners," he says. "Failing to stop stink bugs from entering a structure will cause the infestation to become worse every year, as they feed and breed throughout the summer and return in greater numbers—thanks to their infamous pheromones that not only stink, but can stain curtains or drapes when they re-emerge in the spring, inside the home."

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