Richard’s Almanac: Killing stinkbugs — the sweet smell of success

The odoriferous stink bug. (Stock image).

Ode to the odoriferous stink bug. (Stock image).

When I mention this to people, everyone seems to have a stink bug story but not really a solution for getting rid of them. Maybe we need professional help with these armored creatures.

I first heard of them when I was supervising a study hall  on a warm May evening some 15 years ago. A student squished one with his foot and a very offensive acrid odor filled the room. A good way to disrupt a study hall — which was his intent. 

I really had not seen one after that. I’d hear about them occasionally but had no contact. Not until this past summer when I heard one buzzing over my head while reading in bed. I captured it and flushed it.

Everything has been fine up until last weekend when I decided to remove old clothes from a closet. Then I saw a few of them clinging to a blazer I was ready to take to the clothing bin.

I decided to do some research.

According to sources on the internet, they arrived in this country from Asia in the ‘90s and have established themselves pretty well. They feed on plant leaves and hide under debris outside in gardens and yards. They move indoors in the winter to get warm.

From what I have learned, they are not harmful to humans (except for their scent, which is repellant) and get into homes through windows and doors and on  firewood. They can be brought in on clothing. Their armor makes them pretty resistant to standard bug spray. They are very attracted to light.

My research led me to various home remedies for getting rid of them.

One suggestion involved dryer sheets. Apparently, the bugs do not like the scent of these sheets. What could I lose by buying some?

After I rubbed the sheets around the windows and stuffed them in crevices by the doors and liberally spread them around the closets — my upstairs smelled like a busy laundromat on a Saturday afternoon — I waited.

The following morning I found a bug walking merrily on top of a dryer sheet.

The next technique I tried was the “light trap” I saw on YouTube.

I took an empty two-liter plastic soda bottle and thoroughly dried the inside. Then I cut around it two thirds of the way up so I had the neck and opening separated from the base.

After blackening the bottom with electrical tape and running masking tape in four places up the side, I put in a small flashlight on the bottom, turned the neck upside down and placed it in a darkened closet.  The masking tape helps the bugs get traction moving up the side until the slide down the inverted neck to the light.

I caught one bug that night!

The best way to pick them up is with a vacuum. But use one that has an easy clean-out. You do not want these bugs sitting around inside a vacuum bag.

The most popular way to dispose of the bugs is to flush them. But that does waste water. Whenever I do see one and do not have a vacuum handy, I grab a piece of toilet paper, pick up the bug — careful not to squeeze too hard— and then flush.

I decided to see what was available at the hardware store. They have a whole section in the back devoted to stink bug control. There are outdoor/indoor traps on which they get stuck. There’s a spray bottle of stink bug poison and there’s a rather sophisticated  two-part trap with a light. Very impressive.

I feel like my next step should be to try some of the commercially made items.

And if they’re not successful, then I’ll bring in a professional.

Country living and its challenges.