The Best DIY Stink Bug Trap

Ah, the aroma of cilantro floats through the air…but wait, it is not Italian tonight? That distinctive scent could be our armored little friend- the Asian stink bug. With stink bugs now in over 41 states, even Home Depot and Lowes are starting to carry special traps. On Amazon they have non-toxic stink bug traps with prices going up to $35.

Do you need a high dollar trap for this nasty little pest? No, actually with a few household items you can make a quite effective one pretty quickly without harsh chemicals, and safe enough to use without a worry to pets and children. In my opinion, using preventative techniques with natural recipes and remedies is the way to go on everything!

What Exactly Is a Stink Bug?

It is a pretty interesting story when you think about how this little ¾” brown insect that loves to live right in our homes with us, is not a native insect. We actually have a few that have pretty much been in the house all winter.

My husband doesn’t like killing anything unless absolutely necessary, like for food. I hear “It just wants to livvvveee….”…

He also feels horrible at setting mouse traps. I am a bibliophile, and seeing what they do to books, I do not feel bad at all.

Identifying a Stink Bug

The first thing you can do when thinking on the best way to eradicate stink bugs, is to make sure you have identified this pest correctly. For the bug world, they have a distinctive 5 segmented antennae.

You have to be pretty close to count that. The biggest identifier for me is the “shield,” literally the wings fold into a shield shape.

We get 3 types here in Kentucky, and evidently they have become a major agricultural nuisance in over 40 counties since 2010.

The 3 types are different in color, but all have that shield shape and a triangle of raised shell between their shoulders, about ½’ wide. The colors can be grass green, a harlequin orange and black, or the more common brown marmorated.

Are Stink Bugs Toxic to Humans?

They will not kill you, but the chemical that is secreted can cause temporary blindness and irritate any skin it comes into contact with.

With an exploding population, you also need to know- they bite! Information online doesn’t inform you of this, but with ever increasing reports of stink bug bites- BE AWARE.

Stink Bugs and Pets

If it’s moving, pets will have that predator instinct flare up and grab them. This is a no-no. Intense vomiting will accompany having that sulfur smell on their face, plus it can damage their eyes.

If they can’t quit vomiting please seek medical help. Their balance of electrolytes can be thrown off within a few hours, and harm their vital organs, and it can result in renal failure! I keep Pediolyte handy for this, plus if their pupils get big- they are going into shock.

Get some honey, or glucose tablets, and spoon it in them ASAP! Sometimes the ride TO a vet can be fatal, as you do not have time to wait. This also can help with a bee sting, to keep them out of shock.

Protecting Your Home Against Stink Bugs Invasion

It is important to seal any openings, so that a stink bug cannot find entry into your home. Caulk can be used to seal cracks, windows and door jams.

It is a good idea to place weather stripping to seal any space under exterior doors. As they are a bigger bug, screen will prevent them from getting into your vents and into your attics and crawl spaces.

Is There a Way to Just Hide from Them?

Some info online urges you to turn off all lights and “hide” your house from the light seeking bugs so you don’t need poison or foul smelling bug repellents. They also seek warmth, so I am not sure you want to rely on that.

We like to stay up, and usually something is always on, so that’s not really a viable option. I also use all natural techniques, so that’s the smart way to avoid toxic chemicals.

How NOT to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

Although they are bugs, and loudly buzz by your head, do not smash them. There are 2 main reasons not to squish these little guys.

  • The smell is the biggest reason not to mash them. The natural smell is cilantro, BUT when distressed the smell is rotten eggs! This pungently, trashy smell is secreted and sticks to surfaces. I made this mistake when I thought one was a wasp. When it landed on the couch by me, I used the remote to squish him by reflex. Needless to say that remote had to be replaced. I wiped, bleached, and Mr.Clean-ed it. It didn’t help, the porous plastic had it embedded in there.
  • That same horrible smell, when released, actually calls in the Cavalry of other stink bugs to gather! So even stepping on one by accident, suddenly you will see a bunch if they are in the area.
  • I will also add, please do not use an expensive exterminator to get rid of them. They work by spraying for eggs, and with a flying insect it will take a long time. The stink bugs will be done with your garden and fly away before that actually works, so it’s best to kill the bugs directly.

Disposal Note

Do not vacuum dead stink bugs. The dead body “dust” can carry hormones, and jettison it into the air through the vacuum’s filter, thereby calling the welcome party as above.

Dead stink bug bodies leak the toxic fumes as they deteriorate and it’s a nasty, plastic-y smell. So sweep them out of the places dead bugs can collect, especially light fixtures and window sills.

Let’s Make Some Stink Bug Traps!

Today, one was on my coffee cup, and I noticed a few pop up as we had a warm week last week. Yes, they decide they will just come in and hang out. They like sugar, and usually die in tea or coffee.

Today one was on the mouth opening of a Coke can, so that will probably do the trick for me.  The dogs pull back their paws and avoid them, as it’s quite a nasty taste, and they come by their name honestly.

There are a few effective traps, but one was shown to work 14 times better by scientists at Virginia Tech and it’s really a basic trap for pests, including fleas. There are a few tweaks.

As homesteaders and preppers, we can add a bit to make this a lot more effective, as the stink bug is a huge problem with any juicy fruits or veggies in our food supplies.

Here is a video with an alternative to this. He uses a fan to blow through a window, places a cardboard catch over the window and then they crawl up into the catch at night.

Cardboard Stink Bug Trap - Take 2

Trap #1: Water Bucket Challenge

This one is great for outside, especially in spring and fall when they are the most active. This method is safe and only needs a bucket, a few teaspoons of dish liquid and water.

stink bug trap bucket

The biggest drawback for the little armored stinkbug is his very armor. He can’t swim. Many people just get a bucket with a few tablespoons of dish liquid in it, whip up some suds, and walk around and flick them in the water. They die within 20 mins.

The soap breaks up the water’s surface tension so they won’t float, and the suds prevent the wings from working. They sink pretty quickly. The more you have in the bucket, the better. They give off that rallying chemical as we spoke of, and the others will come right to them and drown right next to them.

This is nice to just set up under a porch light or outside lamp, as they are attracted to the light when the sun goes down. You can pull hundreds in a night from the garden like this.

Try to make sure all other external light sources are off, to collect the greatest number. If you are seeing them on your screens and windows at night, this should be very successful in removing them from your property overnight.

Trap #2: Lamp, Dish Soap and Metal Pan

With that build-up you would think it is very complicated and a contraption akin to a Rube Goldberg device. Nope. It is actually pretty simple, and the beauty is in the simplicity.

You do not need strong, harmful chemicals or ground contaminating poison sprayed around your family, pets, garden, or livestock to kill this invader.

You need to outsmart him, and use his light and heat seeking need against him. This is a modified version of the one above.

Step 1: Set up the light source.

Just as the stink bug will be drawn to your porch, door casings, or window light at night, he needs a light to attract his attention. You can use a regular light bulb, desk light, or LED light.

The scientists at Virginia Tech use a broad spectrum lightbulb, which makes sense as it is more like sunlight. This trap is more effective in the spring when daylight is shorter, and the nights are cooler.

Spring is also when the insects have love on their brain, making them more active. For summer, they recommended putting it out at 7 pm to 7 am to be the most effective.

Step 2: Set up the base.

For what the light will be over to draw the bugs in to drown, you can use any shallow pan. A shallow 1” aluminum pan filled with water about ¾” is the best to use as it’s cheap and disposable.

Any pan that holds water will do, although the metal may reflect the light more and retain a bit of heat from the lamp.

Step 3: The non-toxic killing agent: bubbles!

Use a teaspoon of Dawn or any dish liquid to sprinkle in.  Whip up some suds, just for them to land on, but not necessary. When they hit the lamp, usually they will fall into the water and drown.

This is non-toxic and safe for pets and children if spilled, BUT with a hot lightbulb please be sure to have it where the lightbulb can’t be tipped easily in the water. Just to be safe.

Here is the YouTube link for the actual DIY stink bug trap test using a lamp, metal pan from the discount or bigbox store and a simple solution of dish soap and water in action:

Stink bug trap - Virginia Tech

What about the Popular Online Bottle Trap?

There is also a third choice of a stink bug trap that involves using a 2 liter and cutting it in half, then using the inverted top to trap the bugs in like common fish traps (but fish can’t back up). You have to make like ramps and paths for the bugs, just a bunch of time and measuring.

I have not found much use with this. I tried it first, and granted a few were in there. But, they fly. So they would fly to the bottle edge and use it to launch then fly upwards.

I would see some, then they would come right back out. The distressed one would emit some stank, so it was smelly and then the super-stinky ones would fly out. For ME, it was not as effective for the work.

BEST Stink Bug Trap EVER

Final Thoughts

I hope this safely helps clear your garden and home of this devastating little pest. With natural predators, if you see a few, you can bet that will escalate quickly.

If you do not take them out early, you are risking any outside planted food. As they lay their eggs in nearby gardens and in fields, it is almost impossible to fully eradicate them once you have a problem.

It is amazing how a few simple methods can save you a lot of future heartache with this little agriculture nightmare.

4 thoughts on “The Best DIY Stink Bug Trap”

  1. We’ve been inundated with stink bugs for the past two years. The critters overwinter in my window frames. I don’t have crops they can damage, I’ve never smelled a stink when they’re squashed (lucky, I guess) and I pick them up by their sides so they can’t bite me, so they don’t really bother me. My sister, however, is another story. Every time one gets into the house she says her “friends” are here, and I have to go put it outside. I have no problem with this except when the blasted things fly away, and I have to chase them. I didn’t know my flea trap (light and water/dish soap) would work for stink bugs, but I’m going to use it to try to keep them from getting inside and giving my sister a heart attack. Thanks for the info!

    1. Thank you, I hope it helps. I saw a few and now, they are everywhere. I hear you about simple things…I spent buying expensive dog dips monthly and it turns out the best thing is ol Dawn for fleas and ticks! Thanks for the kind comments- have a great day!!

    1. We had a teacher who used the “Do Your Investigating” and I think mentally it stuck for DYI, and DIY- !

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