Stink Bug Tipping Point

Would eradication of the stink bug compromise our ecosystem? I don’t have the answer, but I think it’s worth the risk.

My level of loathing for the Halyorpha halys (aka shield bug, brown marmorated stink bug, or simply stink bug) rose exponentially with subsequent encounters. Advocacy deteriorated to opposition similar to Trump’s relationship with the House of Representatives. 

Stage One: Altruistic Attitude

In early autumn scores of stink bugs warmed themselves on the sunny cedar siding of my home. Visible from the upstairs window, I observed their delicate antennae and mottled shield shaped body. I mused about these harbingers of winter days and wondered if their unprecedented number prophesied severity of upcoming weather. 

Little did I know that while I immersed myself in folklore these opportunists cased the joint!

Stage Two: Live and Let Live Logic

October’s cooler weather diminished the visible stink bug population. I assumed they burrowed or migrated or encased themselves like honeybees or monarchs or luna moths. Winter would whittle their numbers to a natural spring balance.  When a lumbering stink bug crossed my inside path, I captured it in a tissue and steered it outside thinking the misguided insect would find warm winter shelter in my garden.

Unbeknownst to me while I kindly relocated the wayward stink bug, it had been scouting out future camps!

Stage Three: Seeking Answers

Snow drifts in the driveway, icicles on the roof, and stink bugs crawling up the wall? How did these insects remain active during freezing temperatures? How did they enter the house? Were they tanked on antifreeze and flew in when I opened the back door to fill the bird feeders? Now what should I do? Throw them outside to freeze to death? Squish and flush them? Create a terrarium, have them winter over inside, and release them in the spring?

In blissful ignorance I surmised their presence a fluke. I followed the squish and flush method. They had been stowaways on the replenished firewood, I surmised. 

Stage Four: Polar Vortex Stink Bug Quandary

A stink bug perched on the window sill during negative bazillion polar vortex degrees. Since I hadn’t brought in firewood recently that benign theory had been negated. Were these bionic bugs? How did they keep their six spindly legs warm while my two swathed in thermal underwear and fleece still shivered in the frigid temperatures? 

The research point had been reached. I Googled “stink bug” and learned some interesting, but disheartening stink bug facts.

Don’t vacuum stink bugs because they will stink. Apparently it’s best to nonchalantly amble by with a concealed Kleenex and squish in a Ninjaesque fashion. 

When forewarned of danger, the emitted foul smelling liquid is a call to arms. This draws reinforcements who have taken refuge for the winter months in cracks and crevices that all homes have. Warmth awakens the stink bugs who think it’s spring and enter the house instead of outside. Hence, stink bugs appear during negative bazillion polar vortexes.

In other words I was surrounded!

The most comforting facts involved what stink bugs DON’T do. They don’t bite or reproduce in the house. With that knowledge I moved forward with planned sneak attacks on confused stink bugs. I’d caulk windows in the spring.

Then it got personal. I found four in my sock drawer!

 Stage Five: Stink Bug Assassin

Several hours on YouTube revealed a surprising amount of stink bug videos. A favorite of mine began with a bearded tattooed fellow wielding a shotgun in one meaty hand and a canister sprayer in another. Here was a kindred spirit! After several false starts (one caused as he explained “this piece of cr*p sprayer won’t work” and another “I just stepped on the cat”) he commenced to squirt the stink bug dotted side of his home with a water and dish soap concoction. According to the comments this was a temporary solution. 

Another video, “Stinkbug Frankentractor and Friends” featured a rock band accompanied by dancers dressed as stinkbugs. This charming amateur production included a golden retriever who wandered onto the set. 

The third video, “Best Stink Bug Trap Ever,” thoroughly demonstrated how to build a stink bug trap using a plastic coke container, light, and tape. The first step was “be sure to drink the coke before cutting the bottle.”

Although not all were helpful, all were entertaining. As for my approach I think I’ll follow the tattooed videographer’s lead, except I’ll be wary of underfoot cats, ditch the “piece of cr*p canister,” and use the shotgun. 

8 thoughts on “Stink Bug Tipping Point”

  1. I feel your pain & stress. They freak me out-crawling in the middle of a room so you can’t figure out where they came from- or suddenly appearing 2 inches from your left arm! Scream! Fling! Luckily they seem to be slower moving than even me these days so are easily squashed. And flushed. Another great story Anita.


  2. I definitely feel your pain! Since we have so many by us (they do like the orchards near us), we have dedicated one vacuum to the stink bug! Honestly, the smell is not too bad!! Also, my husband and I have an understanding; it I see a stick bug lumbering across the ceiling when I go to bed, that vacuum is going on so I can rid the world of one more stick bug!


  3. I despise them.
    Dawn dish soap is the only thing that works. I’m in New York and Ive never heard of them until 2017. If they didn’t fly I wouldn’t hate them so much but when trying to nap or sit back with a book the helicopter crash sounds against the wall and window freak me OUT. Then I hunt for them so I can collect them in an empty water bottle and relocate them outside.
    I feel like they’re crawling on me As I type so I suppose I should finish. Great post


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