The US is in the grip of a stink bug infestation

Watch out for the stink bugs this season! Plus, a top expert tip for getting rid of them

brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys
(Image credit: Marco Uliana / Alamy Stock Photo)

The US is suffering a stink bug infestation, with the annoying bugs reported to have spread to a shocking 47 states, with Virginia reported to have the highest numbers this fall.

The good news if you want to know how to get rid of stink bugs is that they aren't dangerous, and they don't harm plants in your garden. However, their presence can be highly annoying, especially if there are a lot of them and they start entering your home.

If chemical pest control doesn't appeal to you, you may still be able to tackle them with a DIY method shared below. But first, are you sure that what you're dealing are really stink bugs?

Stink bugs or boxelder bugs?

It turns out that you may not be dealing with stink bugs at all. Megan Cavanaugh, co-owner of pest control company Right Pest Solutions, explains that 'boxelder bugs are most commonly confused as stink bugs, though there can be the presence of both around a property.' 

These two bug species look similar, 'babies are a brighter red, and as they molt into adults they get darker in color and lose their bright color completely (if stink bugs) or mostly (if boxelder bugs).'

The bad news is that both of these bug types stink when squished – boxelder bugs smell possibly even worse than the coriander-smelling stink bugs. Megan explains that 'both pests are invasive pests, gaining access to millions of homes every fall to avoid the cold winters of the northern US.'

Mediterranean stink bug, Red shield bug, Skull shield-bug

(Image credit: blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo)

Top tip for getting rid of stink bugs

The most common DIY form of pest control for stink bugs is diatomaceous earth. Gian Moore, a master DIYer and home improvement expert says, 'It's fossilized plankton, the shape of the diatoms shreds their exoskeletons causing them to dehydrate and die.' 

Rachel Strike, a senior pest researcher with the popular DIY pest control website, also recommends diatomaceous earth – it's 'the most common way to handle stink bug populations and as a major plus it's also effective for hundreds of other pests, too.'

However, Megan cautions that you should not use diatomaceous earth in your backyard if you have pets. Diatomaceous earth can also harm the lungs if inhaled in large quantities, so you should always sprinkle it while wearing a mask.

Brown marmorated stink bug on the white plaster of a house

(Image credit: MassanPH/ Getty)

Megan told us that by far the best way to prevent a stink bug infestation is to 'close any openings through which these pests could enter (foundation, siding, gaps around window and door frames – prevention is the key). Keep in mind that stink bugs can squeeze through four-millimeter gaps.'

Ultimately, if you have a serious infestation, then calling in the professionals may work best, but Megan cautions that 'if you are going to use a pest control company, consult the pest control company prior to doing any treatment yourself, as it could deter what they will do.'

If you're dealing with other pests this season, we've also got plenty of tips on how to get rid of termites and how to get rid of skunks in your yard

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.