North Carolina

Squish at your own peril: How to get stink bugs out of your house — and keep them out

They’re back.

Stink bugs: the odorous insects that burrow in people’s homes like micro-sized hibernating bears packing a fusty punch instead of razor sharp claws.

Everyone’s least favorite home intruders are settling in ahead of colder weather.

But whatever you do, experts warn, don’t squish them.

Where did these pesky creatures come from?

Stink bugs are an invasive species that “hitched a ride to the U.S.” from Asia in the mid-1990s and refused to leave, spreading their funk from New York to North Carolina, National Geographic reported.

According to researchers at N.C. State University, the stink bug first showed up in the Tar Heel state in 2009. They’ve since spread to 70 of its 100 counties.

If their crop-killing presence wasn’t bad enough, they also refuse to seek their own shelter.

“(The brown marmorated stink bug) is the only stink bug species that seeks out human-made structures as overwintering sites,” researchers say.

How do you get rid of them once they’re in?

Stink bugs release their foul odor as a defense mechanism whenever they’re threatened or squashed by humans, according to the pest controllers at Ortho.

Exterminators and experts alike therefore don’t recommend coming at them armed only with a tissue or flyswatter.

Instead, they suggest picking up stink bugs with a plastic bag and depositing them outside where they’ll likely freeze to death.

The bug experts at Bio Advanced even advise using water bottles.

“Take an empty water bottle and use the lid to flick the bug into the bottle. Tighten the lid to contain the smell, and place the whole thing outdoors,” according to an article online. “In cold climates, the bug will freeze. Re-use the bottle for more bug-catching.”

They also recommended drowning stink bugs in a soapy concoction, sucking them up in a vacuum or just flushing them down the toilet.

How can you keep them out?

Scientists are still trying to figure this out.

Most of their hopes are hinged on a wasp smaller than a sesame seed with no stinger that injects its egg into that of a stink bug’s, “leaving larvae that eat the developing bugs before chewing their way out,” Science Magazine reported.

The science community is trying to figure out if the so-called samurai wasp can be safely introduced in North America, according to the magazine, while some have already immigrated on their own.

But in the meantime, there’s a few tricks to keep stink bugs at bay.

Pests.org said the bugs like “uncultivated areas,” so people should take good care of their gardens, crops and yards.

They also look for damaged door and window linings to make their nests — a good sealing could make all the difference.

If you’re feeling particularly brave, Bio Advanced even suggested squishing some stink bugs around the outside of your home like heads on a pike.

“The odor warns other stink bugs to flee,” according to the lawn and garden care line.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.
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