Stinky, smelly, and generally a pest! These are just a few of the words that describe a stink bug infestation in your house and yard. Even worse than their smell, stink bugs can cause major damage to the fruits and vegetables you work so hard to grow in your garden.
Stink bugs spend their spring days eating vegetables and fruits, as well as laying eggs on the underside of plant leaves. In the late summer, stink bugs search for a safe place to spend the winter including your home’s attic, crawlspace and walls.
We’ve got all the details on where stink bugs hang out during the day, as well as some great tips and tricks to limit the number you see in your home in the spring and summer months. Read on to get the full scoop, as well as to learn about our favorite products to take care of any size stink bug problem!
Where Stink Bugs Actually Go During The Day
For most regions, stink bugs spend the spring months eating, reproducing, and generally just getting ready for their eventual hibernation. Adult stink bugs will typically live a few months into the spring, just long enough to lay their eggs and produce the next generation of pests.
Some species may lay eggs several times, and can lay up to 400 eggs each season!
In the later summer and fall, stink bugs focus on finding a place to do their hibernating (also called diapause, as it’s better known in the insect world). They typically search for someplace safe, warm, and quiet, which may be under a log or in a pile of leaves. Or, that safe place may be in your home’s crawlspace, attic, or walls, if they can find a way to crawl inside.
Not every single stink bug will hibernate though. If you live somewhere without a real winter, stink bugs may be active 365 days a year! They may still enter your home if you have sources of food or moisture they’re interested in, but they won’t hibernate and emerge on warm days as most species do.
But where do stink bugs live, and what habitat can they be found in? Keep reading below to find out where stink bugs spend their time.
Where Do Stink Bugs Live?
Geographically, several types of stink bugs can be found throughout much of North America, in some Asian countries, and throughout Europe.
The most common types in North America, the green stink bug or the brown marmorated stink bug (an invasive species), can frequently be found in woodlands and hiding in crops, where they feast on plants until it’s time to hibernate. They also may be found in orchards snacking on tasty fruit trees.
Younger stink bugs may also choose to hide in other types of plants and trees that don’t necessarily provide them with a meal.
But, as soon as they’ve grown, they’ll move on to what the Texas A & M Extension Entomology department reports are “host plants”, or vegetation that can provide both a haven and a light snack! In fact, before winter sets in, stink bugs spend much of their time eating and reproducing before the first frost.
Stink bugs don’t just live in the woods and on farms though, they just as easily can be found hanging around your yard, garden, or even on your house!
During any bright and sunny days, stink bugs might be found hanging out on whatever side of your house is most exposed to the sun, as well as in your garden eating any fruits and vegetables they can find. On cooler days, they may be found in leaf and vegetation piles around your home or hiding under logs, rocks, or in firewood stacks.
If you find them hiding out or you see them soaking up some rays, it’s important to note that you have a big enough population of stink bugs hanging around that they could quickly cause a problem both inside your house and out.
The good news is, that there are plenty of steps you can take to help protect your home. Read on below for our favorite tips and tricks to keep stink bugs out of your house and your garden.
Where Stink Bugs Hide At Night
The short answer is, they don’t! Stink bugs don’t hide when it’s dark outside, they’re on the move just as much in the overnight hours as they are during the sunny parts of the day.
So why don’t you notice them as much at night as you do when the sun is out?
That’s because, at night, these stinky little creatures (like many pests) are attracted to bright lights. They may congregate around porch or security lights, or they may be attracted to light shining out from windows that don’t have curtains or blinds.
Unlike during the day when stink bugs are hanging out with other stink bugs, at night, these critters are harder to pick out and distinguish from other flying insects gathering around sources of light. So you may be seeing plenty of stink bugs, and not even realize it!
Unfortunately, this also means that if there are gaps and cracks in your home’s exterior walls and you have interior sources of light shining at night, the stink bugs may find their way inside. And once they reach safe places to hide like your attic, crawlspace, or even inside your walls, they may be there to stay, especially if the days turn cooler once they get inside.
What Drives Stink Bugs Away?
If you want to take care of your stink bug problem, you need to focus on driving the bugs away from not only your home but your yard and garden as well. Stink bugs are known as “general herbivores”, meaning that they eat a wide variety of plants, including the ones you might be trying to grow in your garden.
As long as they have a consistent food source, they won’t have a reason to leave.
It’s not realistic to avoid all the plants stink bugs like to munch on (they love some of the same tasty fruits and veggies that people do!), but you can take steps to plant things that stink bugs hate as much as they love. Creating a garden with wintergreen mint, garlic, lavender, and lemongrass can help discourage the bugs from hanging around.
As an added benefit, you’ll create a diverse garden that smells amazing in the summer!
You’ll also want to ensure your yard is as tidy as possible, and eliminate any areas that stink bugs can hide out on colder days.
Start by cleaning up areas of tree bark and piles of leaf clippings or other vegetation. Watch for stink bugs on the side of your home, and use a spray or a bucket of soapy water to dispose of any you find.
With some yard maintenance and a bit of careful garden planning, you can make your yard the last place where stink bugs will want to live in the spring and summer. This can help keep down the number of pests trying to get into your home in the winter (and reduces the population available to reproduce next spring).
And, if you’re interested in reading more, check out our article about the scents that stink bugs hate here!
Why Are Stink Bugs Attracted To Your House?
Stink bugs may be attracted to your home for a variety of reasons. During the late fall and winter, stink bugs are driven to find safe places to hibernate. Then, once winter sets in, they can be found hibernating inside attics, crawlspaces, and walls until warmer days in the spring return, at which point they’ll leave to find food and lay eggs again.
Stink bugs may also be drawn to food sources (like fruits and veggies in the kitchen), or sources of moisture (like water leaks or humid crawl spaces). They also may be attracted to your home’s lights in the evenings and at night as they try to naturally follow the (in this case, artificial) setting sun.
If you have open windows without screens, uncovered vents, or open doors, it won’t be long until your outside stink bugs become inside stink bugs.
The really bad news? Once one stink bug comes inside, more are sure to follow. Stink bugs release a pheromone to attract other stink bugs to safe places to hide, so you’ll soon have a whole mess of pests in your home.
The EPA reports that “In areas where they [stink bugs] are established, they can enter structures by the hundreds or thousands.”
That means that if you don’t take care of your problem quickly, even a few stink bugs can quickly turn a small infestation into a huge one!
How Long Stink Bugs Will Stick Around Your House For
Most stink bugs move inside in the late summer, sticking around until the spring when average temperatures increase and the bugs move on to the next step of their life cycle. However, if they’re unable to find their way back outside (or if you live in a cooler climate), it may be many months before your stink bug problem begins to resolve.
In terms of life span, stink bugs live less than a year, with the average life span being 6-8 months.
They generally live through the first few months of spring so they can reproduce before Don’t let the short life cycle fool you though, as a female can lay hundreds of eggs in that time, meaning that there are plenty of new stink bugs to keep the population going.
As long as stink bugs have access to your home, they’ll keep coming back (especially if they have access to food and water sources).
That’s why it’s so important to take steps to eliminate your problem and discourage them from returning. Check out our suggestions below on how to stop any stink bug problems in your home.
How To Get Rid Of Stink Bugs Inside Your House
Due to the stink bug’s anatomy, the best way to get rid of stink bugs you find is through removal rather than using a spray insecticide (although some sprays specifically designed for stink bugs also work well).
And what works even better than removing or spraying for stink bugs after you find them, is to prevent them from getting inside in the first place!
Stink bugs are small pests that can (and will) squeeze into small gaps and cracks around windows, doors, in the foundation, and even up high near attic spaces. By finding and sealing up any possible areas of entry, you can prevent stink bugs from wintering in your home, which can help reduce stink bug populations next year.
Here are some tips and tricks to make your home as stink bug-proof as possible:
- Reduce sources of external light at night by turning off bright porchlights or closing your blinds. If you need to leave windows open, use a screen such as Assembled Custom Size Window Screens to stop pests from coming inside.
- Seal up gaps and cracks in the exterior walls using a product such as Dap White Caulk. Try and seal any spaces during early or mid-summer to stop stink bugs from coming in to hibernate in the late summer and early fall.
- Check walls and around windows and doors on bright sunny days. If you do have stink bugs inside, they’ll usually be found in the sunniest spots in your home.
- You also may want to consider placing a few pest traps around your home to catch stink bugs and other critters as they move about. Consider FENUN Fly Traps, Gnat Trap, Moth Traps, Mosquito Catcher Indoor, which makes setup (and cleanup) a total breeze.
- Clean up areas of moisture, and make sure to hide away fruits, veggies, legumes, and nuts. Most stink bugs love to feast on all of these. This is one reason they can often be found hanging out in agricultural areas and farms!
- Use Foam Insulation Tape around windows and doors to block gaps that pests may use to crawl in (as a bonus, tape like this can help better insulate drafty spaces, saving you money on heating and cooling bills).
- Use a mesh cover on crawl space vents to keep small and large pests out. Try this Vent Wire Sheet for Crawlspace.
- Rake vegetation and leaf piles away from the foundation (or discard them completely), so stink bugs are discouraged from hanging out around walls where they might look for a way into your home.
- If you are unable to adequately seal all the gaps in your home’s walls, you can use an added scent barrier like Wintergreen Essential Oil to help keep stink bugs out.
What To Do When Stink Bugs Are On Your Walls
If you do find a stink bug in your home, you have plenty of options for how to deal with the problem.
Stink bugs can be removed with a shop vac and emptied into a bucket of soapy water or they may also be deposited outside in the wintertime to take care of them quickly. You can also use a special product like HARRIS Stink Bug Liquid Spray which is specifically designed to take care of any stink bugs instantly and with no fuss.
However, if you decide to proceed, remember the number one rule of dealing with stink bugs: Avoid squishing them at all costs (there’s a reason they have the name that they do!).
Stink bugs release a defensive liquid when threatened. This liquid has a very strong odor (and taste, for any predator unlucky enough to taste it). Instead, if you find a stink bug in your home, utilize a plastic container or baggy to transport it elsewhere quickly and without touching your skin.
If you’d like, you can read more about why stink bugs smell the way they do here.
Truthfully however, stink bugs don’t really smell that bad. But, the scent can attract other stink bugs as well – so just be cautious.
Where Do Stink Bugs Lay Eggs?
The good news is that they don’t! Stink bugs generally prefer to lay eggs on the underside of a leaf outdoors. While they may come inside and hibernate, stink bugs will always try to find their way back outside in the spring to lay their eggs.
The bad news is that all those new stink bugs each spring will still need to find somewhere to hibernate come next winter. If you have a home with plenty of gaps or easy access to the inside, and you do not take steps to stop them, you may find some new (and unwanted) roommates coming inside next fall.
That’s All for Now!
Stink bugs are pesky creatures that can cause a serious smell in your home and yard. They also feast on various plants, fruits, and veggies, causing lots of damage and leaving behind unsightly marks on plants. Stink bugs lay their eggs in the spring on plant leaves, and the presence of adults can attract more stink bugs to move into the area quickly, making your infestation grow each year.
More than just causing damage to your garden, stink bugs will also use any gaps and cracks they find to move into your home and other structures, to find a safe place to stay for the winter and hibernate.
On warm days, they can come out of their hibernation briefly to gather in the sunniest spots of your house, releasing stinky chemicals if they feel threatened.
With some preventative maintenance and a few extra tools, you can make your home more pest-proof against stink bugs and all sorts of other creepy crawlies. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to use our Pest Pro search tool to find a pest professional near you.
Lara, Jesus, et al. “Biological control program is being developed for brown marmorated stink bug.” California Agriculture 70.1 (2016).
Inkley, Douglas B. “Characteristics of home invasion by the brown marmorated stink bug (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae).” Journal of entomological science 47.2 (2012): 125-130.
Kamminga, K. L., et al. “Biology and management of the green stink bug.” (2012).
Rice, Kevin B., et al. “Biology, ecology, and management of brown marmorated stink bug (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae).” Journal of Integrated Pest Management 5.3 (2014): A1-A13.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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