Autumn is a wonderful time to be a Pennsylvanian. The air finally begins to cool after what was a hellish summer (as always). Penn’s woods turns more colors than the mind can conjure. PA farmers are getting ready to harvest apples, pumpkins and strange looking squash in abundance, as well as convert those shriveled corn fields into mazes and other family fun activities. Mums are out, scarecrows are out, and of course, Halloween is right around the corner! As I write this I can already smell the cool air, tinged with fallen leaves and hay, and see in my minds eye skeletons, candy corn, and a mug of spiked apple cider. Ahhhh. Yet, as quickly as these images are conjured, they are derailed by the one thing that I dread every fall. It crawls to the forefront of my fall memories and covers up the smell of leaves, and hay, and apples with its own dreaded odor. You know what I’m talking about. Halyomorpha Halys, better known as the Stink Bug.
Are They Harmful?
There is plenty of reason to be annoyed, but no need to be afraid. This stinky bug gets its name from the odoriferous chemicals it gives off when harassed as a defense mechanism. Stink bugs are only harmful to our gardens and our agriculture. If you aren't a farmer a stink bug is just a smelly nuisance. They do not bite or sting, if you have sensitive skin you may notice a burning sensation if you come in direct contact with their spray. They also do not reproduce indoors and will not cause any structural damage to your home. Typically my cats find them before I do and harass them until they spray, then I find myself spending an hour or more bordering on madness, sniffing around my place as I try to find the source of the smell. This is a regular occurrence in my home during the fall months.
What Can You Do? Don't Let Them In!
Stink bugs can often be found hanging out on the sunny side of your home. When the weather turns cold they start looking for warm places to enter into diapause, a dormant state, for the winter. The best way to minimize the headache that is a stink bug invasion is to prevent them from getting into your home in the first place. Common points of entry for our stinky foe include doors, windows, siding, electrical outlets, skylights etc. Before the weather gets too cool (now would be a good time) do a thorough inspection of your home inside and out to find and seal cracks and openings around entry points. Also check utility pipes, behind chimneys, and underneath wood fascia. Stink Bugs are attracted to light, so swap out your outdoor lights with less attractive yellow bulbs or sodium vapor lights, and keep them turned off whenever possible. You can also have a pest control pro come out and pre-treat your home.
If you want to avoid chemicals inside and out give diatomaceous earth a try. Diatomaceous earth is all natural and safe for pets and people. It kills insects by working its way under the exoskeleton, puncturing its body and absorbing all of its moisture, leaving behind a little stink bug mummy. It can be dusted around entry points in and out of your home and will work as long as it remains dry. Find more information about application here.
How To Get Rid Of That Damned Smell!
The best thing to do is keep them from spraying in the first place. When I find a stink bug hanging out in my home, my method of removal is to VERY GENTLY grab it with a piece of toilet paper and give the bugger a flush. No smell and he’s gone for good! Sometimes a spraying stink bug cannot be helped, like if you have cats that think they are toys for instance.
So what do you do if you need to get rid of that godforsaken smell? Since burning your clothes, home, or self is a bit extreme, you can use this formula to help neutralize the smell on washable fabrics and hard surfaces. Here’s the recipe.
Follow these steps now so that your thoughts of fall may remain joyful, colorful, and pleasant instead of infested by stink bugs. Good Luck friends!
Written and Researched By: Victoria Buckwash