If you live in an area that has stink bugs, you probably dread the fall and winter seasons. These noisy and smelly insects make their way indoors to stay warm and cozy in the winter. They really aren’t the best house guests!
Stink bugs have a reputation for being odorous, but did you know they also make noise? Stink bugs can buzz, click, and vibrate. Some of the noises such as buzzing and clicking are made because of the physiology of the stink bug’s body. Vibratory sounds are used as a way to attract potential mates.
Stink bugs will often come indoors in the fall and overwinter in our homes. Let’s check out all the noises stink bugs make so you can identify them (and then get rid of them!) in your home.
Stink Bugs Buzz When They Fly
We’ll admit, this one is pretty obvious. But let’s check out the flight of a stinkbug in detail and find out why they’re so noisy when they fly!
Stink bugs have two pairs of wings, which isn’t unusual for a flying insect. Wasps, ladybugs, bees, and termites all have two sets of wings.
According to Penn State University, a stink bug’s forewings (front wings) are thick and tough and mainly function as a protective covering for the hind wings. It’s these hind wings that cause so much ruckus inside the household.
The hind wings of the stink bug make an extremely loud buzzing sound while flapping, often alarming homeowners into thinking there is a wasp, or a small helicopter, inside their home.
Stink bugs are not very agile while flying, and are also picky about when they take flight. According to an article in the Bulletin of Entomological Research, stink bugs rarely fly more than 3 miles in a day while outdoors.
Stink bugs rarely take flight if the wind is over 1.5 miles per hour, and prefer temperatures between 68℉ and 86℉ before taking flight. Picky, picky…
But, why exactly do stink bugs fly? Can’t they just crawl into a corner and sit still over the winter? There are a few reasons stink bugs take flight in your home:
- Attracted to a light source
- Attracted to an indoor house plant
- Feels threatened
- The temperature in a certain room becomes too cold
If you want to catch the stinkbugs mid-flight, consider getting something like this Dwcom 20 Pack Fly Tape.
The only good news about having stink bugs inside your home is that they do not destroy anything while overwintering and they do not reproduce inside your home. They just scare the heck out of you when they take flight and emit smelly odors from time to time.
Stink Bugs Click When They Land On Hard Surfaces
If you’ve had the unpleasant experience of listening to a stink bug in flight, you’ve probably heard the distinct click when they land on a hard surface.
The clicking noise is made by a combination of the bug’s physical body landing on a hard surface combined with the folding of the hard exterior forewings.
The stinkbug’s hindwings are responsible for all the noise when they fly, but the forewings are what make it sound like stink bugs have tap shoes on when they land.
These noises tend to be louder when stink bugs land on something that has little give such as a wall, ceiling, door, or countertop. The clicking noise is not as distinct when landing on a plant or other soft landing spot.
If you’re hearing a lot of buzz-click noises coming from one room in your house, it’s probably where the stink bugs are getting inside. Areas that are close to doors and windows typically have the highest volume of stink bugs and therefore the highest volume of buzz clicks.
There are many ways in which stink bugs could be getting into your house. Luckily, there are also a lot of solutions for getting rid of them as well!
You can expect to hear the buzzing and clicking of stink bugs most often in the fall and spring. During the winter, stink bugs go into a hibernation-like state called diapause. You may see them chilling on the wall or ceiling for a few months during this catatonic state.
Don’t worry, in the spring these stink bugs will move outdoors and you can have your home back in a state of peace and quiet!
Stink Bugs Vibrate To Communicate
Bugs are weird, to begin with, right? They have too many legs, too many eyes, and big antennae that wiggle around. When it comes to attracting mates, a stink bug’s ritual is pretty strange as well.
Male stink bugs use vibrations to find and attract nearby females. In the insect world, this vibration signal is referred to as a song and makes noise!
According to Penn State University, the song is orchestrated by the stink bug’s abdomen, which is then transferred to whatever the stink bug is sitting on such as a plant leaf or surface.
These melodies sound very different from the hectic buzzing noise of flight or the distinct clicking noise of landing.
An article in the Journal of Physiological Entomology did a study on this vibrational communication between stink bugs. Their study listened in on stink bugs as they made their songs and looked at what the reactions were from females.
What they found out was that male stink bugs are the only ones to initiate the vibrational song. They do it spontaneously and pretty much just hope that a female is nearby.
If they’re lucky and a female stink bug is nearby, the female will reply with their song. The stink bugs will continue to exchange songs until they can find each other.
Other Ways That Stinkbugs Communicate
Unlike other animals, stink bugs do not growl, yip, hiss, bark, or make any noises other than buzzing, clicking, and vibrating. Instead, they have to rely on other ways to communicate to get their point across.
Stink bugs use pheromones to communicate a variety of things to other stink bugs. And when we say pheromones, we’re not talking about the stinky odor that gave these insects their name! We’ll get to that a little later…
According to Rutgers University, stink bugs will release pheromones when they’ve found a decent over-wintering spot (like your home) that will attract other stink bugs to their location. This is a tactic employed by ladybugs as well.
These pheromones are the reason why you rarely find just one stink bug in your home. In the wild outdoors, stink bugs use this to call other stink bugs to their location so they can try to stay warm throughout the winter.
Now, onto the stinky smells…
Stink bugs use their smelliness as a defense mechanism against predators. They have unique glands located in their thorax that spray a potently-smelling chemical over themselves.
According to North Carolina State University, the chemical spray is deposited on something called an evapatorium. The evapatorium is located on their exoskeleton and helps the spray evaporate more efficiently, therefore spreading the smelly odor into the air.
And who wants to eat something that smells that bad!
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into why stink bugs stink, you can check out our article: In-Depth: The Real Reason Why Stink Bugs Smell.
What To Do About Stink Bugs In Your Home
Stink bugs can be a nuisance in the home with all their buzzing, clicking, and vibrating. Not to mention the smell!
The good news is, stink bugs do not lay eggs inside, they do not damage anything by chewing, and they cannot bite or sting.
That doesn’t mean we want these smelly insects inside our homes, though. There are a few things you can do to keep these pesky bugs outside.
- Seal all entry points: Stink bugs have to get inside somewhere. The most likely areas are around doors and windows. Stink bugs can squeeze into the tiniest of spaces. Use something like GE’s Silicone Window & Door Sealant to make sure all the spaces around your windows and doors are sealed.
- Use a natural repellent: Essential oils can be incredibly useful at repelling insects from certain locations. Stink bugs do not like the scent of clove, lemongrass, spearmint, wintergreen, geranium, or rosemary.
Mighty Mint’s 16oz Insect and Pest Control Peppermint Oil can be used to spray around door and window frames to prevent stink bugs from coming inside in the first place. Note: Always read the directions on the product label before using.
I also highly recommend checking out our guide on utilizing scents that stink bugs hate!
That’s A Wrap!
Stink bugs are a common pest that plagues our homes in the winter. They invade our homes, stink up the place, and make loud noises when they fly.
But buzzing isn’t the only noise that stink bugs can make. To recap, the three noises that stink bugs make include:
- Buzzing in flight
- Clicking when landing on a hard surface
- Vibrational ‘songs’ when trying to locate a mate
In addition to making noise, stink bugs will also use smells to communicate. They release a pheromone that attracts other stink bugs when they find a good overwintering site.
Stink bugs will also release their stinky odor when they feel threatened. This is a defense mechanism used to make predators think twice before biting into such a smelly meal.
If you have stink bugs in your house, there are a few natural ways to get rid of them. Check out our guide on using scents that stink bugs hate in order to keep them out!
The most successful way to stop stink bugs from getting inside is to seal all entrances into your home. Otherwise, you can use essential oil repellents to repel them from certain locations.
Even though stink bugs can be a nuisance in the home (not to mention a smelly guest), they do not do any major damage while inside your house.
However, if you have an extreme infestation, you can consult a professional by using our nationwide pest control finder to locate a bug pro near you.
Lee, D., & Leskey, T. (2015). Flight behavior of foraging and overwintering brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research.
Polajnar, J., Maistrello, L., Bertarella, A., & Mazzoni, V. (2016, June 14). Vibrational communication of the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). Physiological Entomology, 41(3), 249-259.
Rice, K. B., Bergh, C. J., Bergmann, E. J., Biddinger, D. J., Dieckhoff, C., Dively, G., Fraser, H., Gariepy, T., Hamilton, G., Haye, T., Herbert, A., Hoelmer, K., Hooks, C. R., Jones, A., Krawczyk, G., Kuhar, T., Martinson, H., Mitchell, W., Nielsen, A. L., … Tooker, J. F. (2014, September 01). Biology, Ecology, and Management of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae. Journal of Integrated Pest Management, 5(3), A1-A13.
Wiman, N. G., Walton, V. M., Shearer, P. W., Rondon, W. I., & Lee, J. C. (2015). Factors affecting flight capacity of brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Journal of Pest Science, 88, 37-47.
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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