May 27, 2010 6:35 PM   Subscribe

My house is completely infested with brown marmorated stink bugs, and I can't take it any more. Are foggers a possible solution? And how bad are they for people, pets, and the environment?

The experts say that physical exclusion is the definitive solution, but that's not an option—my house is old, poorly constructed, and so full of entry points that it would be impossible to seal them all.

(I rent. I'm eager to move, but that's not going to happen for a few months.)

  1. Will foggers kill stink bugs? If so, will it last long enough to be worthwhile, or will I simply get re-infested? I live in the country, and the immediate surroundings of my house are no doubt teeming with the horrid little fuckers. I thought they only came inside during the cooler months, attracted by the warmth of the house—but things seem to have gotten worse as warmer temperatures have returned.
  2. I've heard that mass killing of stink bugs may give rise to a secondary infestation of carpet beetles, which will feed on the dead stink bugs, and then turn to my clothes and other textiles when that food source is exhausted. Is there any truth to this?
  3. Everything I can find agrees that pyrethins and pyrethoids (the insecticides used in foggers) break down quickly when exposed to light and oxygen, and that they're at least less toxic to mammals than they are to invertebrates. Is anyone aware of evidence to the contrary?
  4. What's the environmental impact of these things? I'm finding conflicting reports. Some sources implicate them in groundwater contamination and colony collapse disorder; others specifically disclaim these effects. Ordinarily I wouldn't even consider using them, but the infestation is really out of control, and I'm at the end of my rope.
Alternate solutions (keeping in mind the constraints of my situation as a renter and a short-timer) are also welcome. Please help! Thank you!
posted by ixohoxi to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sealing entry points is best (sorry that's not an option for you) but we've done this only accompanied by something else which does stem the tide, to a point. Here's what we do:

1. Fill large glass bowl with water.
2. Add some dish soap — a few drops to break the surface tension.
3. Place the bowl where the stink bugs are most active, with a white sheet of paper underneath and a strong light source over the bowl.
4. Turn off all other light sources in sight of the bowl. Total darkness is helpful here.
5. Go to bed.
6. Wake and dump out the stinkers! (You might need to coax some into the bowl come morning.)

I've also vacuumed hundreds of the little buggers. From the attic where they were congregating. The one drawback to this is your vacuum will smell of stink bugs (vaguely of cilantro) for months afterwards.
posted by Dick Paris at 6:49 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you rent, another option is to get your landlord to do the job. First, document the infestation. Then ask for pest control from the landlord.
If the land lord doesn't comply with the reasonable request, put your rent into an escrow account. You will need to go to court, but I think you can do this without a lawyer. is a good resource:
posted by noonknight at 11:22 PM on May 27, 2010

When you're hunting down the stink bugs with your vacuum, be sure you also can recognize the nymphs. They look very different than the adults. If you see them, suck them up too.

If you have a fire place in your home, get it cleaned out. We found that was the primary point of entry in our home. Once we got the infestation cleared out of there, we closed the flue and it has helped a huge amount.
posted by onhazier at 5:55 AM on May 28, 2010

I've been in your place. I know how disgusting it is to be reading in bed and hear that telltale drop onto the pillow next to your face. I do not come bearing good news. When I had an infestation in my old rented apartment (killed 20-25/day in my bedroom alone), exterminators told me there was nothing they could do. If you fog inside but don't seal up the entry points, they'll just come inside through the cracks as soon as the fogger has cleared up. We're talking a day or two.

The crapper is that they live outside, feeding on fruit trees and other stuff that keeps them alive. So they're not coming inside your house looking for sustenance. They're coming inside only to try to stay alive when the outside temps might kill them.

There's nothing the landlord can do for you, since exterminators can't effectively treat the outside of the building. Maybe you can find comfort in the fact that at least you don't own this place--because the landlord is who's really got the long-term problem. Also, the general public is starting realize they're an imported, invasive species, so hopefully within a decade or two we'll have either a chemical or physical solution for widespread use. Or maybe we'll get lucky and some animal in the food chain will take up eating them. In short, you're definitely not alone!

Since you only have a few months left on the lease, I recommend leaving your lights off at night as much as possible. Vacuum or flush any that you find. If vacuum isn't handy, slide a cup over the live bug and then slide a Netflix envelope with the disk inside to transport to the toilet. Spray Raid ant & roach killer at the most obvious entry points 2-3 times per day to act as a last-ditch barrier. Close doors to rooms that contain obvious entry points. If you can do this, and you have a room that you can stop using, leave a light on in that room so they'll congregate there instead of where you are (in the dark, sorry).

Also, spend a lot of time out of the house with friends!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:52 AM on May 28, 2010

Exterminator here. The bugs were under your siding or in cracks and crevices all winter and are now emerging and looking for a way out. It's too late for prevention. Take comfort in knowing that they will not live for very long in your house; they woke up hungry and they won't get anything to eat unless they go outside. Hiring a pro might kill them off a bit faster, but frankly they're half-dead already so you might want to do cost-benefit analysis. You probably already found out that squashing them is a bad idea. One of those little bug vacs is a good idea. Also seconding Dick Paris' comment * but it probably won't get them all. The time for prevention is late summer going into autumn; they will be looking for spots to over-winter. When it gets close to fall time and if your landlord hasn't done anything, buy a can of flushing action bug spray that has one of those little tubes like on a can WD40 and go around and spray into all the cracks and around the windows and anywhere there's a gap. Some buildings just get picked on and it will likely be an on-going problem. Tell your landlord a change of paint color might help, and he might as well caulk up all those little gaps while he's at it.
posted by ambulocetus at 6:31 PM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

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