Solutions for Stinkbugs

September 1, 2013

stink season fall season

TOM KRAEUTLER Welcome to the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast presented by Orkin. I’m Tom Kraeutler. Well, cooler temperatures mark the arrival of one thing, the fall season. But while you might welcome the temperature change, one insect sees this as the perfect time to seek a cozy place in your home to settle. Stink bugs, they may not be as dangerous as other pests, but they are definitely a nuisance and a potentially smelly one at that. Fortunately, there are ways to control them. Greg Baumann is going to help us figure out what they are. He’s the Vice-President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin and Greg joins me now with tips on how to identify and eliminate them from your home. Welcome, Greg.

GREG BAUMANN Well, thank you, Tom, it’s great to be here.

TOM KRAEUTLER Well, coming up in this episode of The Money Pit’s Pest Prevention Podcast, Greg is going to teach us how stink bugs get their names and how to keep them out of your house. You’re also going to find out where stink bugs hide and how you can find them before they find you. And we’re going to get tips on getting rid of a stink bug infestation. So, Greg, let’s start by talking about how these bugs got their name. I mean, while many insects defend themselves with a bite, are these guys kind of like the skunks of the insects industry?

GREG BAUMANN Well, Tom, that’s a great way to put it because they actually put off a really nasty smell. You know, they have these glands on the abdomen and secrete a scent and they can actually shoot out this smell for several inches.

TOM KRAEUTLER Wow! So, they really are like skunks. They spray this scent and that keeps us away.

GREG BAUMANN It keeps us away, it keeps birds away and it keeps other predators away.

TOM KRAEUTLER That’s really interesting. Now, there has been a real rise in stink bug infestations. I know on our national syndicated radio show, The Money Pit, we seem to be getting more and more questions this time of year about stink bugs. Why are they so much more prevalent now than they have been in the past?

GREG BAUMANN Well, you know what, a friend of mine says, “Always bet on the bug.” You just don’t know.

TOM KRAEUTLER (Laughter).

GREG BAUMANN Yeah. The most common stink bug, the brown marmorated stink bug, was first identified around Allentown just a few years ago, believe it or not. And today, Penn State University reports that it has spread to 34 states, plus the District of Columbia.

TOM KRAEUTLER Well, I could have told you there were stink bugs in Washington way before that.

GREG BAUMANN (Laughter) Most people would agree with you.

TOM KRAEUTLER How do people identify each of these different types of pests? Because there are a variety of stink bugs out there?

GREG BAUMANN Yeah, there are multiple species out there. There’s the green stink bug. There’s going to be the brown marmorated stink bug, which I was just referring to, as well as a couple other species. The kudzu bug in the south, very common. Likes to feed on kudzu, but it hasn’t solved the problem yet. We still have kudzu.

TOM KRAEUTLER So, is the treatment the same for these, no matter where they are? I mean, how do you get rid of them from your house? I mean, you can’t crush them, right? Because they’re going to smell?

GREG BAUMANN Well, you know, stink bugs are not pests that like to come into the house. They typically live outside. They feed on plants. In fact, some of them can be pretty major agricultural pests. The brown marmorated stink bug for example, they like to invade fruit crops, and they can cause serious damage.

TOM KRAEUTLER But if they do get into your house, what’s the best way to get rid of them? Because we have gotten many reports from our audience of stink bug infestations showing up in window wells and things like that.

GREG BAUMANN Well, probably the best thing you can do is try to seal any cracks and crevices, but that’s a pretty tall order for something that is going to get into a very, very small crack. But any time you see cracks or door sweeps that are not functioning properly, you know, repair them, try to keep them out. If they do get inside the house, though, and they’re not going to try to live inside the house, they’re going to try to spend the winter with us inside the house, because it’s nice and warm, vacuuming, is probably the best solution, but don’t vacuum them and then leave the vacuum cleaner sitting in the closet. Otherwise, the closet will smell like a collection of stink bugs. You want to empty the bag or empty the canister out as soon as possible.

TOM KRAEUTLER Yeah, that’s a good point. One of the tricks of the trade that I’ve learned over the years is to take a stocking and stick it inside the hose of the vacuum so that when you draw the stink bugs in, they get collected by the net of the stocking. And then you can pull the stocking out. That’s your collection point, and then throw them out.

GREG BAUMANN That’s a great idea because you won’t carry that scent around the house, you know?

TOM KRAEUTLER Otherwise, you got to empty the bag right away, or if it’s a disposable, throw it out right away, whether it’s full or not.

GREG BAUMANN Well, that’s right, and actually dead stink bugs can create another type of infestation, such as carpenter beetles, which like to feed on dead stink bugs.

TOM KRAEUTLER Oh man, you are just chock-full of good news, my friend.

GREG BAUMANNAh, sorry about that.

TOM KRAEUTLER (Laughter) We’re talking to Greg Baumann. He’s the Vice-President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin and Orkin.com. So, stink bugs like to form outside the house. We can’t really do much to prevent infestations outside the house, but inside, just to summarize, obviously, just like all insect infestations, we want to make sure we’re sealing all cracks and crevices around our homes, including windows and doors. You also say to protect the vents in attics and crawl spaces with screens. Is that a common way that insects get in?

GREG BAUMANN They certainly do. Especially vents into the attic. And of course, once they’re there, they’re going to want to work their way into the warm areas of the house for the winter. So, screening those entry points would be great ideas, as well as a treatment. You can do a treatment of the siding of the house when they emerge or in the fall before they start to try to penetrate into the houses.

TOM KRAEUTLER So, you can effectively apply sort of an insecticide barrier around the outside of the house that will stop stink bugs from penetrating into the interior?

GREG BAUMANN That’s exactly right. We try to do a preventative treatment.

TOM KRAEUTLER Is this a situation, Greg, where you’re almost managing the populations, if they just kind of get to a level where they’re excessive, that that’s an appropriate step to take?

GREG BAUMANN It’s very difficult to prevent them totally or to control them totally. Remember, these are things that live outside in crops and in trees, and there’s a huge population. We’re not going to control that population. We’re just trying to control the population that’s going to get into your house.

TOM KRAEUTLER What about stink bug traps? They seem to be fairly new to the market, but they’ve made resurgence in recent years? Are they effective for homeowners to use?

GREG BAUMANN Some of them worked to a certain degree. We’ve seen them collect stink bugs for sure. But keep in mind, a house can be invaded from the floor level all the way up to the chimney level. And so you would have to have a lot of traps for it to be the sole way of controlling stink bugs from getting into your house.

TOM KRAEUTLER Good advice. Greg Baumann, the Vice-President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin. Thanks so much for stopping by the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast.

GREG BAUMANN Thank you very much.

TOM KRAEUTLER And if you’d like to learn more about how to identify and prevent pest problems in your home, you can visit Orkin.com. The Orkin.com site is full of useful information to help you identify and eliminate insect problems in and around your home, including a pest library, where you’ll be able to look up any pest you come across as well as locate a local Orkin Pest Control pro to help you eliminate those pests. It’s all online at Orkin.com, Orkin. Pest Control Down To A Science. I’m Tom Kraeutler. Thanks for listening.