Who would have thought that you could kill stink bugs with something as seemingly innocuous as dish washing detergent! But it is true. It wasn’t exactly discovered in a laboratory. It was not as if some entomologist was running clinical trials with stink bugs in some laboratory somewhere, trying out different chemical agents to see which ones would harm the bugs and which ones wouldn’t.
The use of dish soap to kill stink bugs was seemingly discovered by accident – by regular people like you and me, trying different things to thwart the onslaught of their infestation into our homes. And then the next thing you knew, this idea of using dish soap as a means how to kill them suddenly went viral, and it has become a commonly accepted household solution for keeping this problem at bay.
Stink bugs have only been a problem in North America for about a decade or so now. For thousands of years, they had actually been native insects from southeastern Asia. For thousands of years, southeastern Asia had been their habitat, in countries such as Japan, China, and the Koreas. It was only recently that the problem became a crisis here in North America, after it is believed that a handful of these bugs accidentally came abroad from overseas in shipping crates that were not properly inspected before leaving their home ports back home. Now, the problem has become widespread in the United States, spanning well over 33 states across the continent.
There are many ways how to kill stink bugs. Unfortunately, the most common solution that most people think of when it comes to killing bugs is to simply squash them. That solution might work well and good with ants and roaches. But this species of bugs are a whole different story. If you try to kill one, let alone try to frighten one, it releases a terribly foul stench, as a deterrent. This natural self-defense mechanism is potent enough to drive away just about any predator, and it is definitely unpleasant for human beings as well.
You don’t want this stench to get on your clothes or on your skin – not because it is harmful, but because it is a nuisance. While it is a matter subject to debate, it is believed, among some circles, that when stink bugs release their odor, it alerts and attracts other stink bugs toward it, thereby increasing the concentration of their population within one area such as a particular home. Also, you don’t want the remnants and residue of stink bug odor to be stuck to your furniture, to the floors, or to the walls of your house either.
And it is for this reason that it might be in your best interests to find other ways to kill them and to eliminate their presence entirely. There are numerous ways to deal with the problem. Some ways rely on some creativity and imagination to eradicate the problem on your own, in a do-it-yourself fashion. And some ways rely on calling up professional exterminators to do the job for you.
Let’s take the example of dish washing soap, for example. Of course, it is common sense that if you submerge any living creature, including humans, in a pool of dish washing soap for an extended period of time, it can be extremely harmful, if not fatal. But stink bugs are a special case: You don’t even need to submerge them in dish washing soap.
It has been found if these bugs come into physical contact with dish soap, this can be extremely paralyzing, if not lethal, for them. There is something about the chemical composition of dish soap that has been proven to be harmful to these bugs. But there is one caveat though: Stink bugs have a protective “armor” – an exoskeleton that gives them their characteristic “reptilian” look. This armor is seemingly impervious to the dish soap. The soap is only harmful to the bug if it comes into contact with its underside, where all of its organs are. So you can be looking down at a stink bug and spraying it with a bottle of dish soap all you want, and it won’t have any effect on it (except that it might get a little slippery for the bug.)
… Which brings us to a discussion on the different ways how you can maximize the effectiveness of dish soap to kill a stink bug:
1. One way is to use the submersion technique. You could, quite literally scoop up a stink bug with a paper towel, or somehow trick it to climbing onto a piece of paper, a sandal, or any other object, and then quickly submerge it into a container full of dish soap. The bug should be a goner within minutes.
2. If the thought of doing any of the above makes you queasy, then another alternative might be to grab a spray bottle full of dish soap, as mentioned earlier, and keep it ready. When you see a stink bug, get ready, aim, and fire! Spray that little bugger until it falls to the ground, turns over onto its back, leaving its belly exposed, and then spray that thing hard until it passes out. As mentioned earlier, it is important to make sure that you are spraying its underside. Spraying its upper body is futile. At the very least, the stink bug might lie still for a few minutes, but then it will get up again and move about its business.
3. If you really want to be hands off with having to deal with or interact with stink bugs in the process of capturing and killing them, then you can set up some sort of a stink bug trap. This usually involves a light source, a source of heat, some fruit as bait, some duct tape, and a container of dish soap. The stink bug will be attracted toward the trap because of these three things: light, heat, and fruit, all of which are attractive to these bugs. Once the stink bug comes into proximity with these things and gets stuck to the duct tape, you can then submerge the duct tape into the dish soap container and seal the lid.
Dish soap works. You should definitely give it a try. But it may not work in all situations. If your house is heavily overrun by stink bugs, you may think to yourself “how much dish soap am I going to have to use”? You don’t want your whole house smelling like dish soap. If the problem is just way too overwhelming, you might need a little help.