The age-old question remains: should you kill a stink bug and, more specifically, crush it?

The answer is no because stinkbugs release an unpleasant odor if crushed or killed, which is more powerful than you might expect. 

So if you spot a brown, flat, dime-sized insect walking through your living room in the wintertime, hold off on squashing it; there’s a good chance you’re face-to-face with a hard shell brown bug, aka the marmorated stink bug! 

What Is a Stink Bug?

These pesky, invasive little insects hail from Asia but were brought to the U.S. in the 1990s. They’re known to travel indoors during the start of winter to seek shelter for hibernation, which is likely when you’ll spot them in your house. 

When threatened, they’ll often release a foul-smelling liquid designed to disrupt predators, allowing them the chance to escape. 

Most invertebrates have some defense mechanism against predators, like a honey bee’s stinger, an ant’s mandibles, and the stink bug’s stink. 

So when you come into contact with one of these smelly little insects, it’s best to follow a few guidelines to prevent the release of their unappealing odor. 

What Do You Do If You Find A Stink Bug?

Unfortunately for homeowners who come across a stink bug in their house, these small insects release their foul-smelling chemicals when they feel threatened by a human, resulting in a powerful stench. 

For this reason, it’s best to dispose of stink bugs in ways that don’t require direct skin contact. Several effective methods include: 

  • Vacuuming. This is one common method, allowing you to remove the bugs from your home without running the risk of exposing yourself to their trademark stink. However, these insects will stink up your vacuum, so it is best to avoid using the good household unit. However, any old vacuum or an inexpensive dry/wet vac will certainly do the trick and may be worth investing in if you regularly deal with infestations. 
  • Natural Insecticides. Fill up a spray bottle with a 50-50 concentration of vinegar and water. Then, add a small squirt of dishwashing liquid and get to work! This mixture is highly effective and safe, though it takes more time to kill the bugs than typical insecticides (requiring 30-45 minutes.) 
  • Manual Removal. While this method isn’t ideal, you can always remove the insects manually (with some added protection.) Gloves are a terrific option, as well as plastic bags or other protective coverings that you can slip over your hands to prevent contact with your skin. 

There are also plenty of additional stinkbug repellants you can try if you’re struggling with an infestation or even just one bug. 

stepping on a stink bug is likely to release their stinky spray

Should I Squish A Stink Bug? 

Squishing them is arguably the worst way to handle a stink bug. Whether threatened or not, stepping on or swatting a stink bug is likely to release their stinky spray, resulting in a pungent odor that’ll fill the area where they were killed. 

For this reason, it’s always best to use less aggressive tactics when eliminating stink bugs. 

What Happens if a Stink Bug Releases Its Scent?

While seemingly innocuous, killing a stink bug can have lingering effects. Not only does the chemical produced by stink bugs smell, but it also releases pheromones that attract other stink bugs. With numerous stink bugs roaming through your home, it’s only a matter of time until you’re stuck with a smelly infestation! 

Can You Touch Stink Bugs? 

If you’ve read this far in the article, then you should already know the answer to this question: NO! Well, technically, yes, but you shouldn’t. While stink bugs don’t bite or cause any harm, touching one is likely to release its defensive chemicals, which will quickly stink up your home. Touching one directly will always be ill-advised, so keep the vacuum or plastic bags handy if you must! 

So what’s the deal with stink bugs? And how should you handle finding them in your home?

First, it’s important to note that they aren’t harmful, and their well-known stink is merely a defense mechanism that’ll dissipate. Therefore, when removing them, it’s best to use methods that either won’t alarm them or won’t require direct skin contact to avoid them releasing their defensive spray. 

And if you’re struggling with an infestation beyond the typical pre-winter hibernation behavior, don’t hesitate to contact your qualified local pest control experts below.  

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