How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your RV

If you’re looking to find out how to get rid of stink bugs at home or in your RV, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve learned the hard way how these toxic insects were finding their way inside our own RV and multiplying by the hundreds! After much research and through our experience, we’ve put together a guide on how to kill stink bugs as well as prevent further infestations.

So, here’s our helpful tips on how to keep these smelly insects from, quite literally, stinking up the joint! As well, these extermination methods will keep them from hitching a ride to your next destination.

Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your RV!

How to Prevent Stink Bug Infestations

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What are Stink Bugs?

Stink Bug in RV

Stink bugs are just plain nasty insects that do more than just look ugly.

But, according to pest specialists at OrkinStink Bugs (Pentatomidae) have a shield-shaped body with five segmented antennae from which the family name originates. They have 2 sets of wings. And, they have a tiny head compared to other insects.

Both nymph and adult stink bugs have strawlike mouths that can pierce and suck to extract juices from food sources.

According to Center for Invasive Species Research’s Department of Entomology, stink bugs, also known as the brown marmorated stink bug is an insect that came to the U.S. from Eastern Asia, including China, Japan, and Taiwan.

The first reporting of these insects entering the United States occurred in 2001 in Pennsylvania. However, they’re finding stink bugs may have arrived in the states as early as 1996.

Today, there are more than 200 species of stink bugs in North America. Stink bugs are also referred to as ‘shield bugs’. The most commonly encountered herbivorous stink bugs found in and around homes is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.

The extremely destructive Stink Bug feeds on soybeans, vegetable crops and fruit trees. This is why we, as RVers, must take the initiative of not allowing them to transport with us during our travels.

When do stink bugs mate and multiply?

Stink Bugs Mating on a leaf

Marmorated stink bugs go dormant and hibernate in the winter. Therefore, they don’t feed, reproduce or lay eggs in the winter months.

But, come spring, those dead-looking stink bugs come to life and female stink bugs start to reproduce in the early spring.

According to Terminix, female stink bugs typically lay their eggs under plant leaves in rows of a dozen or more. They can produce as many as 30 to 100 pearl greenish barrel-shaped eggs in a cluster at a time.

Once the eggs hatch, the newling stink bugs grow through nymph stages; progressing from their original yellowish-green color to brown and black. Stink bugs will grow to about 15mm in size.

Do stink bugs bite or sting?

Stink Bug Up Close Head

Stink bugs do not sting like bees or bite like black flies. These type of insects do not have stingers or teeth.

However, they defend themselves from predators by expelling their putrid pheromone. Hence, why they are called Stink Bugs.

How long do stink bugs live?

According to Rutgers’ New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, adult brown marmorated stink bugs can live anywhere from six to eight months.

What attracts stink bugs in your home or RV?

We find that stink bugs are attracted to bright light. Whether it’s the sun during the day or your porch light or interior lights at night, they fly into the light like pesky moths.

We quickly learned to turn our interior lights and outside porch light off before we’d go sit outside by the campfireEven so, when going back into our RV, we’d still close the door quickly behind us as to not let in any bugs…of any type. 

But, even with those precautions, it still isn’t fail safe. Stink bugs always made their way in some how some way.

At night while watching tv in the dark, it was stink bug party time! Because we’d see those damn things dancing on the television screen. And if that wasn’t annoying enough, we’d even get a straggler or two move the party to our tablet or phone…in bed with us!

Again, they’re attracted to light. So, your #1 stink bug deterrent would be to remove or at least minimize light in your home or RV at night.

Where do stink bugs hide?

Stink bugs like to come in from outside because it’s cozier and safer in your RV or home.

At first, they’ll hang out on window and door frames, screens, ceiling vents; any place where they can quickly sneak in to get away from potential predators.

Once they get comfortable knowing they’re safe, they’ll move in with their imaginary little hobo packs and take refuge on your window shades and blinds, pleats of your curtains or inside your window valances where there’s light.

One quick note; should they get in your home or RV like they did ours, keep an eye on your fruit bowl and live plants. They like to feast on a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Then, when it’s time for stink bugs to hibernate, they sluggishly look for places to take their long winter’s nap in cabinets, drawers, closets, soft clothing, bedding, towels, or wherever else they deem their safe space to go dormant.

Now, as I mentioned earlier come spring, they awaken and somehow the females find males (and vice versa) and start reproducing. Yeah, IN your RV or home.

So, that’s why it’s important to get rid of stink bugs before they even get that chance to multiply and make your place smell like hot garbage.

Can you get stink bug infestations in your home or RV?

As you’ve just read above, stink bug infestations can happen in your home or RV. If by chance you find one or two random stink bugs, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

However, if you find more, you have a problem. Brown marmorated stink bugs like to congregate in large groups which is great cause for concern.

Whether you find one or two or a huge tribe, you need get rid of stink bugs immediately.

Because once one stink bug finds a warm place to winter over, it will release an aggregation pheromone that will attract other stink bugs. Oddly though in a weird science kind of way, that odor is not the same chemical that makes them stink.

Does killing a stink bug attract more stink bugs?

The National Pesticide Information Center says contrary to popular belief, killing a stink bug does not attract more stink bugs.

So, don’t worry about your home or RV smelling like something died just because you squished one…to death.

Are stink bugs toxic to dogs and cats?

I can tell you from first hand experience, that our  cats have absolutely no interest in playing with, catching, killing and eating stink bugs.

In fact, Krissie and Kandi will just stare at them because I think they know about the stink bug’s super power; their stinky odor.

The stink bug’s defensive pheromone is their way of saying “leave me the F alone”. Not that I’ve ever snacked on them, they supposedly aren’t very tasty either.

According to Dr. Franklin, a veterinarian at the Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, stink bugs aren’t poisonous to pets. However, the smelly secretions from stink bugs will irritate your pet’s gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting, excessive drooling and irritation of the tongue, gums, lips and inside of a your dog’s or cat’s cheek.

Which leaves me to believe if our cats ate one at one point or another. They must have learned the hard way to not ever even touch those nasty stink bugs ever again.

And now thinking how it makes sense why the brown marmorated stink bug likes to take up refuge in your RV, with or without pets.

RVs are in a safe haven from outside predators like bats, birds, spiders, parasitic insects (wasps) and assassin bugs, predatory stink bugs and yes, your dogs or cats!

What natural methods can help get rid of stink bugs in your RV?

Now, the most humane way to get rid of a stink bug is not to actually kill them. Simply collect them in a tissue, paper towel or cup and take it outside to set it free. Away from doors and windows, of course.

But, if you are intent on ridding them entirely on contact, there are a few environmentally-friendly prevention measures that you can use to deter stink bugs from entering and/or infesting your home or RV.

Pure therapeutic essential oils such as rosemary, clove, oregano, ylang-ylang, lemongrass, and oils of the mint family are great stink bug deterrents. And peppermint oil is great for detracting them from entering your RV. Peppermint is also great for keeping spiders out too!

Simply put a couple drops of a single oil onto a cotton ball and place it where they may enter (holes, cracks and crevices).

However, use extra caution when using any essential oils around your pets. Especially cats, animals can’t metabolize concentrated essential oils or even those used in diffusers.

Now, I’ve heard Vicks VapoRub works as effectively as essential oils. However, I can’t confirm it as we’ve not tried it to get rid of stink bugs in our RV or our home.

Also, there’s another natural bug deterrent that’s a common farmer’s remedy. In a glass spray bottle, mix 1 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 cup Dawn with 2 cups of hot water to dissipate the Dawn. Then spray the mixture on the bugs directly. Also, you can spray anywhere inside your RV where stink bugs can enter.

Just be aware though, vinegar and Dawn could damage cabinetry, furniture, paint and even waxed surfaces. Always test in an inconspicuous area first before spraying like a May shower.

What pesticides and repellents will get rid of stink bugs?

Actually, there are lots of different insecticides and pesticides that kills stink bugs (and other creepy bugs and spiders) to prevent further stink bug infestations.

TERRO Stink Bug Spray treats and eliminates several types of nuisance insects including boxelder bugs, Asian lady beetles, carpenter ants, and other insects. It’s good at getting rid of stink bugs on contact. And it continues to kill for up to 6 weeks You can use it as a spot and crevice spray to target insects.

Also, it’s odor-free and non-staining formula has a broad applicator or crack-and-crevice treatment.

HARRIS Stink Bug Killer is the perfect solution to kill stink bugs before they overwinter in your RV or home. This type of Deltamethrin product is a non-staining and odorless formula that’s is ready to use and starts working once spray has dried.

To work effectively, simply apply it around door frames, window sills, and any surface where stink bugs can enter your RV or congregate. It offers long residual control of stink bugs and other winter invaders; indoors and outdoors!

Tempo Ultra WP is a pyrethroid-based insecticide that is highly effective at controlling a broad range of insect pests, including Stink Bugs. 

Its’ active ingredient, Cyfluthrin is a synthetic pyrethroid that attacks the central nervous system of target pests. Though this stink bug pesticide is very effective to use on insects, it is very gentle to use around people and pets when used correctly.

It provides a fast knockdown and kill and leaves a residual that keeps killing insects from 30 to 90 days. Yet, Tempo Ultra WP stink bug killer has a no odor and leaves a clear, almost invisible residue.

As with using any pesticide or insecticide, always  read the label before using. 

Stink Bug Traps

Now, if you prefer not to use chemicals or pesticides to get rid of stink bugs, You may want to look into using stink bug traps that will literally stop them in their tracks.

We also highly recommend these stink bug traps that also kill insects humanely.

Wrapping up

Though stink bugs aren’t harmful, they are an ugly and smelly nuisance. And, while they aren’t structurally destructive, these smelly bugs are known to destroy crops, fruit trees and ornamentals all over the Country.

As traveling RVers, it’s important that we eradicate them before transporting them across state lines and even our neighboring countries to keep them from further damage.

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RVing takes planning to ensure you have the best adventure experience. Anytime we plan our camping trips, we use RV LIFE Trip Wizard to get us to our camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.

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More RV tips on keeping your RV free of pests

✰  How to Eliminate Odors in Your RV

✰  How to Clean and Deodorize Your Cooler or Ice Chest

✰  RV Pest Control: Keep Bugs and Mice OUT of your RV

✰  DEET-FREE Bug Spray Recommended for Families

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2 Replies to “How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your RV”

  1. i use a “Pringles” can -catch them put lid on…put in the sun they will die. leave them in it next catch will be easier …some actually Jump in, thinking sole mate waiting for them ,works for me.

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