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Why Do Stink Bugs Stink?

Stink bugs get their name from the unpleasant odor they produce when they are threatened. Scientists think this odor helps protect the bugs against predators.

The stink bugs produce the smelly chemical in a gland on their abdomen. Some species can actually spray the chemical several inches.

What Do They Smell Like?

The name of this invasive bug is a clear giveaway, but if you’ve never smelled one, what foul odor is awaiting your nose? Smelly garbage? Pungent onions? Let’s take a mental whiff of what the stink bug actually smells like.

Their name comes from their smelly defense mechanism. Stink bugs have the ability to emit a strong deterring odor, from their body glands, whenever they feel threatened or injured — much like how a skunk defends itself. The smell varies depending on the species and the person’s olfactory senses, but it has often been compared to strong herbs and spices like cilantro and coriander.

Interesting enough, the composition of the odor is comprised of chemicals commonly used as food additives and is present in cilantro. This smell can linger for hours so, if possible, try to avoid stink bugs or carefully sweep or vacuum them up if they have entered your house, unless you want a face full of intense-smelling herbs and spices.

In the Home

There are many species of stink bugs in North America. They are found in almost every area of the United States. Since most stink bugs feed on plants outdoors, homeowners often do not notice them until the bugs make their way inside the home.

In some areas, certain stink bugs enter homes and other buildings during the summer and fall. They spend the winter inside walls, attics or crawl spaces.

In the springtime, the bugs try to leave the home. They often come out inside the living space. They gather on walls and windows where they become a nuisance.

Many stink bugs are large insects. Some can reach almost 2 cm in length. Their size and their unpleasant odor make them very unwelcome visitors.

Some homeowners use a vacuum cleaner to remove stink bugs from the walls or windows of their homes. The smell sometimes remains in the vacuum for some time.

Homeowners who want to prevent stink bugs from invading should start by inspecting the outside of the home carefully. Cracks around windows and doors can be entryways for bugs. These cracks can be sealed with caulk. Caulk can also seal holes around pipes and cables that enter the home. Attic and crawl space vents should be screened. Torn or damaged window screens should also be repaired.

When faced with stink bug invasions, pest control professionals can develop a pest control strategy and select the most effective next steps.

More Information

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