Do stink bugs actually stink? — Carly’s student essay

Do Stink Bugs Actually Stink?

Brown marmorated stink bugs, or halyomorpha halys, first came to the United States of America in 1998 from South Asia. Ever since, they’ve been common household pests – but the question is, do they live up to their name?

The answer is slightly complicated. If you leave them alone and nothing is bothering them, chances are they will NOT stink. However, no title is undeserved. If a stink bug feels threatened, it will indeed produce a foul odor. Some people believe that stink bugs only start to smell bad once someone or something kills them, but that’s not necessarily true. If they’re aware of the fact that they’re about to die, they WILL produce odor, but simply killing a stink bug isn’t enough to make it stink. 

Similar to a skunk’s order, the stink bug produces odor as a defense mechanism against predators. Certain species of stinkbug can actually spray their stink – they produce the tans-2-octenal and trans-2-decenal chemicals in their abdomen, hurling it at their enemies when necessary.

Isolated living brown marmorated stink bug

However, if you smash or dissect or vacuum up a dead stink bug (basically, if you do anything to destroy its body) it can still release the chemical postmortem. It’s best to carry the stinkbug outdoors or flush it down a toilet so that your home doesn’t become infiltrated with the smell. Your first thought upon seeing a bug may be to smush it or swat it, but that’s not the best option when it comes to the stink bug. Call an exterminator or pest control company if the infestation gets too bad, but never give the bugs a violent death.

Stink bug on a green leaf

Not everyone can smell stink bugs and not everyone thinks they smell the same way, but it’s doubtful that anyone likes their smell – so be careful when trying to dispose of them! They don’t pose any physical threats to humans, but their smell is absolutely bothersome. Ironically, one of the best ways to prevent them is by giving them a taste of their own medicine. Studies show that stink bugs hate the smell of neem oil, and if you spray some in your house they won’t be likely to try to take shelter there. Because killing them can pose a risk of the stink bug living up to its name, it is much better to prevent an infestation in the first place.

In conclusion, most people would agree stink bugs actually do stink. Luckily, it’s very easy to prevent or avoid the smell! Stink bug stink isn’t something that we have to live with, and as long people know how to prevent and properly dispose of stink bugs, then the creatures don’t necessarily have to stink. Stink bugs only stink when they’re threatened or disturbed, so treating them with respect and not causing them any pain or damage are excellent ways to keep their nasty smell out of your house and your life. Technically speaking, it is without a doubt in their nature to release a stinky odor, but that can be avoided so long as they are not provoked.

Author: Carly Timberman

Rowan University

Student Scholarships

Every year Thrive Pest Control hosts an essay contest and the reward is a 1-year scholarship at a 4-year university in the United States. This blog post is one of those scholarships.