Home Stink bugs What Do Stink Bugs Smell Like, Why and how to Get rid

What Do Stink Bugs Smell Like, Why and how to Get rid

The stink bug smell is one the features that makes this insect unique. Read on for details on why they release the odor, how it smells like, how to get rid of it, how long it lasts plus more.

Why do Stink Bugs Smell/Stink?

Why are these bugs called stink bugs? Well, they emit a malodorous smell when they are squashed.

The smell they produce is not in vain but aimed at offering some protective function to the stink bugs. So, yes, they do smell and quite unpleasantly.

why do stink bugs smell
Stink bugs are smelly bugs

This can be evidenced by the presence of a stink gland on the abdomen that includes glands that synthesize hydrocarbons. These chemicals are normally stored in a reservoir awaiting the d-day.

It is worth noting that the smell is not a fume of gas from the glands but rather a chemical liquid that is sprayed a few inches from the point of squash into the air.The liquid harbors this unpleasant organoleptic property.

Fortunately, many pest control agencies allude to them being harmless creatures.

Why do they Stink?

An in-depth observation of the underside of the stink bug bodies, will direct you to the glands between the legs. This is specifically between the first and second pairs.  So why do stink bugs stink?

Danger or threat

They release the smell when they face an imminent danger or threat: every animal has its own way of defending itself.

On the stink bugs’ case, when they are threatened, they tend to ready themselves with this defense mechanism.

The extent to which these chemicals are toxic has been qualified by a research conducted in Parkland College that saw stink bugs asphyxiated in their own stink.

This is especially seen in the Southern Stink Bug that is edible. Due to it serving as a source of food, this is a danger and its release of the foul smelling chemical alerts other stink bugs which take on their heels.

Taxic chemical for mass invasion

stink bugs invade homes and other structures that man or animal lives in. They may do so in large numbers making it difficult to have your home comfort.

Perhaps due to its grim anatomy. Their removal is difficult. The reason you may have a mass of stink bugs running around in your home may be attributed to the chemical they produce.

In warm conditions, the stink glands are able to produce the smell, alerting its other stink bugs of a place they can survive in especially during the winter.

Taxis refers to movement/response towards a region of a given stimuli. Therefore, chemotaxis would be most appropriate in description of what happens among stink bugs.

To add, the warm conditions avail the stink bugs with an optimal condition for mating and may have been purported to attract mating partners for reproduction.

What do Stink Bugs Smell like on Clothes & Skin?

Ever smelt cilantro or coriander? Good, if you have as this odor is comparable to the smell of stronger version of both in combination with some extra compounds, particularly the hydrocarbons manufactured. Cilantro is an Italian cuisine that is interestingly enjoyed by many both locally and internationally.

This chemical released from the stink glands has been identified as trans-2-decenal and trans-2-Octenal. Form chemistry of compounds, these two chemicals are aldehyde hydrocarbons with 10 and 8 carbons respectively.

Don’t mind their stereochemistry, trans-, as this might not be really necessary in this case though it may be linked to its specificity to your olfactory receptors.

So you would be right to call them skunks though you wouldn’t have to squash a skunk for it to emit its foul smelling fumes.  According to some entomologists such as those at Ehrlich, the chemical produce resembles fine wine.

Apart from the aldehydes mentioned, other chemicals that are responsible for the smell include:

  1. Alkanes
  2. Esters

Be it on clothes, or any other fabric, skin and other surfaces that smell will be the same.

Do they smell like Poop or Rotten Eggs?

Stink bugs do neither smell like poop nor rotten eggs…unless you have a problem with your sensory cells, the olfactory sensory neurons to be specific.

Some folks also ask if they smell like cat pee. It may be hard to tell because not many people know how cat pee smells like.

How to get rid of stink bug smell on Skin, Fabric, Furniture & Other Surfaces

In virtually every ‘getting rid’ section is a preventative measure. Prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, the best way that you could count on in getting rid of the foul smell of stink bugs is averting practices that could lead to its emission. These may include:

  1. Crimp all available cracks and crevices in your walls and windows. This will prevent entry of stink bugs into your home.
  2. Use an insecticide and spray it around your garden to kill these pests. Hence, they will have no chance of getting inside your home and you would have to squash them. When you are doing this, ensure that your windows and doors among other openings into your house are well closed or sealed. Bayer suggests some DIY methods of getting rid of stink bugs in this way.
  3. Avoid squashing a stink bug when you see one. What you can do is brush it away with a broom or a mop stick so that you do not do so. Talk to your kids about the bug so that they observe the ‘best practices’ too.
  4. If you think that you have stink bugs in your garden, then you can call a professional stink bug pest control agency to handle it for you.
feeding stink bugs plants
feeding on plants

There are other methods that you can use to get rid of stink bug smells. Use this when you are have already made the mistake of squashing a stink bug. These may include:

  1. Get some volatile oils such as those of peppermint, lavender or eucalyptus. Get a container or jar with a lid perforated to allow some of the volatile oil escape. You can hand the jar in you room. Make more of the jars if you need a more diffusely scented room.
  2. There are suggestions that you could ground some coffee berries and do the same. Well, it depends on what scent you would wish to have replace the foul stink bug smell.
  3. Do not forget adequately ventilating your room. In fact this should be done before you choose to scent your house.
  4. You can also spray your house with some perfumed aerosol.

How long does Stink Bug smell last

The smell can last for up to 60 minutes or an hour after release. However, this will depend on air in the surrounding as well as the number of stink bugs that have released the smell. In some cases the foul smell may stay for hours which has lead to some describing the stench as an intense smell of herby spices.

Does Stink Bug smell attract more?

Yes! As mentioned earlier the chemical attract other stink bugs.

Further Reading


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