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When will stink bugs go away? September 24, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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“When will stink bugs go away” has become the #1 blog search that leads desperate homeowners to our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, in these stinkbug-laden times. We can relate. There must be 40 stinkbugs on every door here at our rural cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, to say nothing of the stinkbugs clinging to our windows, walls, and deck. Eeeewwwww!!!!!!!

There’s bad news for everyone hoping that the stinkbugs will soon be moving on: forget that. They’re actually moving into your home for the fall and winter months, and have no plans for moving on until spring brings a return of longer days and warmer weather. According to the entomologists, the stinkbugs (technically brown marmorated stink bugs) are trying to move into your walls and insulation for a nice winter nap. But since it’s so comfy inside the house, it tricks some of them into thinking it’s time to wake up, and that’s when they show up on your walls, windows, curtains, doorframes, and etc. And then blast off onto you. AAARRRRHHH!!!!

But we digress. The entomologists suggest a two-pronged approach to dealing with stinkbugs: First, seal every entry point. Add weatherstripping to your doors and windows. Close off the flues in your fireplaces and the vents in your attic. Then, if you still see stinkbugs in your house, call in the exterminators.

But what if you’re organic like us and don’t want a pesticide-drenched house? Poor Silence Dogood has been trying to grab invading stinkbugs with her bare hands and toss them back out the door. Needless to say, loathing all bugs as she does and stinkbugs in particular, this has shredded her last nerve and made life for the rest of us here at Hawk’s Haven chancy at best. But fortunately, an alternative is at hand.

Virginia reader Patricia Carey came on our blog to tell us that her family has had success in combating stinkbugs by spraying them with mint alcohol. As Patricia put it, after spraying them, “they fly around for a few seconds and then die.”

Thanks, Patricia! We’re willing to try it if the invasion gets any worse. Trouble is, we have no idea what mint alcohol is, and a Google search did nothing to enlighten us. We doubt it’s Creme de Menthe, but is it rubbing alcohol, grain alcohol, or vodka with fresh mint muddled in, then strained? Or is there something called “mint alcohol” you can go to a store and buy? Please, readers, help us out.

Meanwhile, good luck battling your stinkbug invasions. Don’t let those bad bugs get you down!


1. Frater Zee - September 24, 2010

Hi Si’ — Sorry to read of stinkbug situation.

I saw one on my car last week.

My guess is that “mint alcohol” is a mixture of 92% isopropanol — sold in many stores as “rubbing alcohol” — in which a small amount [say 1% to 5%, for starters] of a strong botanical essential oil has been dissolved.

Note: 70% isopropanol is also sold, but wouldn’t work as well, since it contains more water.

“Essential oil” could be any one of — Oil of Wintergreen, Oil of Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, Oil of Orange, Citronella, Pine Oil, etc.

These essential oils are sold in pharmacy sections of many stores.

Don’t know which one(s) work best against stinkbugs. Peppermint is probably cheapest, so suggest try it first.

For alcohol, you might also try 200 proof (100%) grain alcohol (ethanol), sold in liquor stores. More expensive, but might be needed to get the essential oil fully dissolved.

As we know, plants evolved [or were designed by God] to produce “essential oils” as self-defence against being eaten by bugs, not to “smell nice” to humans (that is merely an incidental side-effect).

The “essential oil” not only tastes and smells awful to bugs; it actually kills ’em (by paralyzing their nervous system) if (enough of) it gets inside them.

BTW — That is why so-called “bug-repellent” candles contain Citronella oil. The candle flame vaporizes the Citronella, which bugs (al least small ones, like mosquitos) dislike.

So, here is where the alcohol in “mint alcohol” comes in. It acts as a carrier to help the “essential oil” penetrate thru the waxy layers of the bugs’ exoskeleton, and then paralyzes the bugs’ nervous system.

All-natural low-intensity chemical warfare.

Another idea — spray “mint alcohol” on surfaces around likely entry-points. The alcohol will evaporate, leaving a layer of essential oil, which bugs won’t like to walk on.

BTW — all the above is merely my best guess from “theory” only. I never actually heard of “mint alcohol” or used it against bugs.

Bug-less-ly yours,
Frater Zee and Soror Ess,
Alchemical Fellowship of Paracelsus

Thanks for the tips on combating the evil stinkbugs with alcohol-based brews, Zee! I especially like the thought of spraying the entry points in the hope that it will keep them away. Too bad they can fly directly into the house instead of having to walk across a barrier. But at least it should cut down on the number trying to get in!

2. Joanne N. Stevenson-Zolnierek - September 25, 2010

OHHH THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU …. I have been going INSANE with these little creatures … we have an older home (24 yrs) and there are probably more holes/cracks then I have wrinkles on my face!!! Also because of my pets and my disability having an outside contractor ($$) come in and take care of business is out of the question … BUT I will promptly tell my husband to pick up “a whole bunch of rubbing alcohol” and whatever essential oil he can find in CVS … This is WAR .. my JRT rescue just can’t eat anymore of those stinky bugs .. eeeuucck!!! I will let you know if it works!!!

3. Joanne N. Stevenson-Zolnierek - September 25, 2010

I just found this little article about using “Mint-Alcohol” on insects that bother certain birds and such … but they tell how to make the “Mint-Alcohol” … Mint Oil mixed with Rubbing Alcohol …


4. Joanne N. Stevenson-Zolnierek - September 25, 2010

1 oz. pure mint extract and 10 oz. rubbing alcohol

Thanks SO much for all your comments and the link, Joanne! You’re a lifesaver!!!

5. Bruce Rose - September 27, 2010

We were at Home Depot last week and a gentleman there said to sprinkle Peppermint Oil around the outside of the house. It interferes with the stinkbugs nervous system and kills them. I don’t know if it works, but the outside of the house smells good.

Thanks, Bruce!!!

6. mark - October 11, 2010

mint alcohol is probably wintergreen rubbing alcohol. Ive also used 70% rubbing alcohol with good success.

Thanks, Mark! I never heard of wintergreen rubbing alcohol, either, but will keep an eye out. And it’s great to know that regular rubbing alcohol works, too. I always keep a bottle of that in the greenhouse in case one of the plants gets scale!

7. Alicia - November 15, 2010

There is mint alcohol at any CVS, Rite Aide, etc. Where you see the regular rubbing alcohol, it’s the green one next to it. 🙂

Thanks so much, Alicia! I finally found some in my CVS. Guess that shows you how often we buy rubbing alcohol!

8. Chris - April 10, 2011

In the Fall as the stink bugs were covering my screens I sprayed them with Windex and they dropped off the screens and died. I have had them in my house all winter and throw around 10 a day out into the cold which would kill them. I wonder if I didn’t spend days spraying 1000’s with windex how many I would have had in my house? Its terrible!

So true, Chris! I hate to think how many would be emerging in your house about now if you hadn’t kept up with them all fall and winter!

9. Bridget - April 29, 2011

I found an organic peppermint oil at Walmart that kept the stink bugs off the eaves and windows. I don’t remember the name, but it came in a white and green spray bottle. After spraying the eaves, stink bugs came near the eaves then just flew away without landing.

Thanks, Bridget! This is wonderful news!

10. karen - May 11, 2011

did it work??

This is a very timely question, Karen! Our data from other stinkbug-fighters indicates that, for whatever reason, mint alcohol does indeed work as a stinkbug repellent. And on the plus side, it’s harmless and smells good to us!

daniellegobertcooley - September 20, 2014

YES!!! It does work!

I saw our first Stinkbug of the season yesterday and spent last night looking online for remedies. Found this. Then today walked out to over a dozen on the back deck. That called for an emergency drugstore trip, where I got 2 sprayers and 48 oz of mint alcohol (found right next to the regular running alcohol, as advertised).

I’ll say the bugs live for a good couple of minutes after they are sprayed (vs the “few seconds” described above), but it DOES work! I also put about a teaspoon in a jar and did the “drop them in” trick – also worked great. The sprayer worked on the ones in harder to reach cracks.

Bonus? Nontoxic, so can be used indoors as well, and my young children could help with the assault without my worrying about them coming into contact with typical bug poison.

Thanks for being such a great Stinkbug resource!!

11. Chris - July 3, 2011

I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia and the stinks bug seem to have left the area???? Just last fall I brought hundreds of them home in my trailer. And after a long battle I think they are gone.

Great news, Chris! Ours have just about gone here, too. But I suspect they’re out there, breeding, waiting for fall to migrate back into the house. So keep an eye out when the weather turns cooler!

12. Liz - October 7, 2011

*sitting on pins and needles* Down here in West Virginia they’re pretty bad. As I’m typing this I see one in behind the blind on the window, and I’ve just killed two of them. I know there are two, three, four more in my kitchen. One day I’m standing in my cubicle at my office and what just comes out of no where and lands on something handing on the wall. It’s like they just appear out of no where. If you’re like me and were tortured as a kid with bugs then I feel your pain. On good thing I found out from a man who studies them is that smashing them does NOT, I repeat does NOT attract more, they’ll just stink is all. I say hey, so what, that’s what FeBreeze is for. 🙂

Ha! Thanks, Liz! The stinkbugs here had just started their annual migration indoors when we were hit with torrential rains and then unusually cold weather for days on end. I haven’t seen a stinkbug since! But of course, it would be too much to hope that they won’t be back, so we’re trialing an indoor stinkbug trap this year. Read all about it in our post “Stinkbug trap!” And good luck!!!

maggee - October 4, 2012

Any liquid soap and water they die in. I hate them with a passion.
House secured up tight and they still get in somewhere.
Now a warm Oct. of 2012, they are larger than last year.
Each year get bigger.
Soon they will be bigger in size than humans.

Ha! Let’s hope not, Maggee! And thanks for the tip.

13. Megan - October 6, 2012

im in nc and having same problem ive sprayed and sprayed with dawn an alcohol (rubbing) mixed together i’ll kill one and 2 more pop up im like the one girl that wrote earlyier i run to the car i hurry n get in the house an shut the door im so terrified of them im a prisoner in my own home!!! i have hardtime sleeping worrying if ones on me or not . I freak out when they land on me someone plz help! an when will they die an go away officially?

Sandi Marlowe - January 28, 2013

Hi Megan, I have the same problem as you and I freak out and gets the chills just thinking about them. I carry a spray bottle of dish detergent everywhere I go in my house cause I never know when one of those uglies will show up.Here it’s the end of January 2013 and I still have them in my home, never saw one before till in the fall of 2012 we had a heck of a wind storm and voila!! they covered my trailer home.I’m going to try that alcohol mix and see if that does better.they do belly up with straight dish liquid but it’s hard to spray if they hit a light fixture then I run for my vacuum. As long as I lived in Massachusetts I never saw one of those bugs before so let’s hope these creatures get out and never come back.

14. Bev - October 7, 2012

We are in S/W Ohio. This is our first year battling these bugs. Suddenly out of nowhere our house had hundred’s of them on ceilings, curtains and walls. They seemed to be isolated in our living room with large windows facing South. Each day we killed 100’s by spraying them with alcohol, getting them off curtain and into a bucket of soap and water. This has been going on for two weeks. We finally had a exterminator come out. He told us it would take a couple of weeks for this to work but we should start seeing fewer each day.

Actually we saw much less that same day and only one or two the next and now on the third just one. So we are very hopeful. I am getting a commercial sprayer to fill with the alcohol mix you have all talked about with mint. I am going to spray the entire house top to bottom and 3 feet out. Next spring we are going to plant mint all around hour home. After so research we have learned they hate mint…

Hope this helps

Hi Bev! Talk about a horror story, yikes!!! But thanks so much for your advice. We’re so glad you’ve beaten the little monsters!

15. Kellie - October 21, 2012

Please dont use that way to hurt or kill them! I hav a stink bug as a pet and they r soooo smart and they even comunicate with me! Mint alcohol.Sells in walgreens and most drug stores. Its where the rubbing alcohol is and looks the same but its green colored alcohol. It smells like mint i think its for a more cooling effect type of alcohol. Please try to use something humain. There r things u can put out that they wont like the smell off. I dont no if this will hurt them but moth balls r stinky to moths and they act a little like the but make sure it wiill not hurt them. I no ur sick of them but there r ways of gettingvthem to leave other them killing them everyting they all come in and doin that will take ur whole life cuz they keep coming so do something that will turn them off from comin to visit u! There r ways,keep searching please! Thank u, kellie.

16. Missy - October 7, 2013

I’m really happy that you have one as a pet and you really need a friend because if stink bugs communicate with you… Your either crazy or very lonely…. Don’t tell us there are other ways give us those other ways, after all communicate with your pet Stinkbug and let me know what it thinks about other ways to keep them away…

17. Larry - February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014. Just had multiple snow storms, temperature has been frigid for quite some time. More snow expected later today, and it’s 1:42am. As I am sleeping, I feel like a rubber band was shot on my forehead. Turns out a stink bug just landed on me. Yikes…As someone commented earlier, it seems they just drop out of the air. Not Happy.

Ugh, Larry! I know just how you feel. Snow AND stinkbugs. Eeeewwww!!!!

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