• Erin Griffith

Fantastic stink bugs...and how to kill them

The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys to my etymology friends, appear every few years around corn harvesting time. They are pretty much harmless, they don't bite, and the smell is annoying, but not too awful. The worst thing about them is the fact that they arrive in such large numbers, you occasionally wake up with one stuck to your face, and, like Steven Segal, they are Hard. To. Kill. What is disappointing about them is that they do not know how to wield a pair of nunchucks, fire a gun, or do karate.

So, another infestation season is upon us! Now, I don't have to deal with them as much now that I have moved, but I once had an epic stinkbug infestation. These little bastards are like little armored tanks that seek shelter in your house. They are almost impossible to kill. Their little buggy hides are so thick that even the stink bug killer that they sell in stores doesn't work or takes so long to work that you are unsure if it worked or if the stink bug died of old age.

Our infestation was quite dramatic a few years ago because our neighborhood backed up to an enormous corn field. We kept finding stink bugs but we could not figure out where they were coming from; because our doors and windows were well sealed. Then I opened the fire place. I am not kidding folks, it was like a scene from the mummy. The ashes under the grate looked like they were moving and when I shined a flashlight up into the chimney, you could see an inch thick layer of stink bugs all around the circumference of the lower edge When I opened the flu, it rained stink bugs. They were in every mortar crevice and between every brick.

When I brought my hand out, it was covered with them. I jumped up and screamed "SAVE YOURSELVES I'M DEAD ALREADY!" and "KILL THEM WITH FIRE!" Eric got all excited because he thought that gave him license to build a flamethrower and came running into the room with his blow torch and a bottle of hairspray, but I told him that it was probably over kill. He hung his head, kicked his foot a little, and slunk back to the garage in disappointment.

So I did some research and found out that most commercial bug killers (even those marketed as being able to kill stink bugs) cannot kill them. Plus, you don't want to go spraying harsh bug killers all over your home if you have small children or animals (which we did at the time). Even the homemade remedies really don't work and you still end up spraying vinegar and dish soap all over your house. The vinegar makes your house smell like salad dressing and the soap stays sticky and attracts dirt, so you end up with weird spots on your walls and carpets where the dust and dirt has stuck to the soapy residue.

Bottom line, the little bastards are built to withstand very harsh conditions. Their one weakness is that they will drown. What did I do? I filled my shop vac half way up with soapy water and sucked all of the stink bugs out of the fireplace. We lit a fire in the fireplace after that to kill any that might have been further up in the chimney. Then, I left the bugs in the shop-vac overnight. In the morning, all I had was a shop-vac full of dead bugs...well, and soapy water, and ashes from the fire place..but you get the idea. Once the majority of them were gone, I kept small mason jars (execution jars) of soapy water in every room of the house. When we found a stink bug, we just dropped them into the jars. I emptied the corpses out once a week or so and refilled them.

That is my recommendation...death by drowning. It's easy. It's cheap. And that is all.


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