If you are having problems with stink bugs in your home, you may be wondering whether the insects will go away on their own, or if you will have to call in pest control experts in order to deal with them.
You may already have noticed that stink bugs tend to enter your home at specific times of year, and you don’t encounter them at other points.
Surprisingly, stink bugs will usually leave your home of their own volition once winter ends. They retreat indoors because winter in the US is too cold for them, and they prefer to seek out shelter. However, once the weather warms up, they will usually go back outside so that they can find food.
Keep reading and you’ll learn:
- Why do stink bugs come inside?
- What prompts stink bugs to go back outside?
- Do stink bugs steal food in the home?
- How do stink bugs behave while indoors?
Why Do Stink Bugs Come Inside?
Stink bugs come inside because winter in the US is too cold for them. They are native to Asia, and so prefer to retreat indoors when the weather gets cold.
They do not have the mechanisms to survive the cold well, and have to try and find the warmest places they can to hide – with a home being an ideal spot.
You will probably find that you aren’t troubled by these insects for most of the year, and they only become an issue when the cold weather strikes.
Stink bugs prefer to wait out the winter by becoming dormant or close to dormant (known as entering diapause) to conserve their energy, and they prefer to do this in sheltered conditions that are safe from predators if they can – and your home is the absolute perfect spot as far as they are concerned.
Houses are warm, dry, and relatively undisturbed. The bugs are not likely to be attacked or eaten, and may be able to secret themselves away unnoticed until the warm weather comes back.
So, they come inside to make the most of the dry and warm conditions offered by a home, and not really for any other reason.
Unfortunately, because they aren’t attracted by anything except the dry conditions, there isn’t much you can do to discourage them from coming in.
Your best hope is to physically block their route into the home, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
How Do Stink Bugs Get Inside?
How do these unpleasant bugs make their way into your home in the first place?
Unfortunately, stink bugs can enter your home through pretty much any crack or crevice that they can find, including gaps in the wall, cracks in window frames, tears in screens, chimneys, etc.
It isn’t easy to stop them. However, you can deter them and reduce their numbers by taking some time to do a bit of maintenance on your home before winter sets in.
Walk around the home and inspect gaps, cracks, or tears in the structure of your house. Look for broken screens and tidy up rough edges.
Doing these kinds of repairs will make your home warmer for the winter, but will also help to keep the stink bugs out.
Don’t just look at ground level, either; stink bugs are good fliers and will happily fly to gain access to your house. You need to seal up gaps from foundation to roof.
You should also try and avoid leaving lights on and blinds or curtains open as the long autumn evenings start.
Stink bugs are attracted to light, and you’re much more likely to end up with them (and other insect visitors) getting inside your home if you leave the lights on.
Turn off porch lights and close the blinds before turning on the lights.
Why Do Stink Bugs Leave Again?
So, what causes stink bugs to go away?
They have entered a nice, snug space and they are relatively safe indoors (unless you call pest control, of course), so why do they suddenly choose to leave again?
Even a large infestation can vanish abruptly, and this might leave you puzzled.
The answer is that stink bugs go back outside when the weather gets warm so they can feed, mate, rear young, and continue with their lives.
They do not naturally live indoors, and they don’t want to stay there once it is warm enough for them to go back out.
You will usually notice that stink bugs leave the home around early spring, depending on the temperatures you’re experiencing.
A particularly cold and long winter may push that to mid or late spring, but after that, they should all be gone.
You may occasionally find a stink bug inside your home during the warm months, but this is usually just passing through and will not stay.
On the whole, you won’t see stink bugs again until the weather chills once more.
Does Cold Weather Hurt Stink Bugs?
Disliking cold weather doesn’t necessarily mean it harms them, and you may be wondering what happens if stink bugs get exposed to icy temperatures because they can’t get indoors.
Recent studies suggest that cold weather is harmful to stink bugs, and this is why they attempt to hide either in your home or in dense undergrowth.
This is hopeful for countries that are dealing with stink bugs as an invasive species, as this may help to control population numbers and prevent them from taking over.
However, it remains to be seen how much difference a freezing winter makes; enough bugs seem to survive to keep the population going.
More study is needed to understand what temperatures stink bugs can survive, but it is certain that exposing them to icy temperatures does kill the majority of the bugs.
What Do Stink Bugs Eat In The Home?
You might also be wondering what stink bugs eat once they are in your home – if only so you can make sure you don’t leave this food lying around and attract or encourage them.
Stink bugs feed on many of the crops that we grow. They will eat peaches, apples, beans, pecan nuts, cotton, and many ornamental plants if they are in a person’s garden.
However, they do not generally target such foods in the home.
That may sound confusing and it isn’t a hard and fast rule, but on the whole, stink bugs are not very interested in finding food when they are in your house.
They are seeking shelter from the cold, and are not trying to find something to eat.
This is because winter has triggered their desire to hibernate, and they are therefore expending little energy.
They won’t move around much and don’t need as much fuel for their bodies as they do when they are outdoors, foraging, flying, mating, laying eggs, etc.
That means you don’t need to worry too much about the food you may have in the home.
While you might choose to put away fruit for a while, it is unlikely that the stink bugs will really bother to forage or eat while they are resting in your house.
This may change as spring approaches and they start to wake up and become more active, or they might simply head outdoors and look for food elsewhere.
In short, stink bugs aren’t really a problem in terms of eating or contaminating your food, and you don’t need to worry about food attracting them.
FYI we created an entire article that answers what stink bugs eat: What do stink bugs eat? Foods You Should Avoid Keeping At Home
Why Aren’t The Stink Bugs In My Home Hibernating?
You might notice that the stink bugs in your home seem active, and are not hibernating as you would expect. Why is that?
Remember that stink bugs hibernate in response to cold environments, and that if temperatures rise, their instinct to hibernate may be weakened. They are more likely to wake up.
Obviously, for stink bugs overwintering outdoors, this is rarely a problem, because temperatures will remain consistently cold throughout most of winter (possibly with a few warm days mixed in) and will gradually warm up to herald the coming of spring, at which point, the stink bugs wake up and begin foraging again.
However, the home environment is very different. Temperatures are consistently warm, and may fluctuate as you turn the central heating on and off, light fires, dry clothes, etc.
This could confuse the stink bug’s natural rhythm and encourage it to wake up early.
This has been observed with other hibernating insects, such as ladybugs.
The unnatural warmth in the home environment causes them to wake up early, which can be a problem as there is not yet sufficient food or warmth outdoors to sustain them.
Hibernation is a stink bug’s defense mechanism against lack of food, so a stink bug that’s in your home may still hibernate.
They have evolved to feed up in the autumn and then sleep away the winter, like many creatures do when there is little food around.
However, with fluctuating temperatures, the stink bug may get confused about when it is time to wake up, so you may see them wandering around a bit.
It’s still unlikely that they will infest your food, so don’t worry too much. Often, they will go back to sleep.
Where Do Stink Bugs Hide?
You might be wondering where in the home you would be most likely to find stink bugs.
Remember that as with any hibernating animal, they are vulnerable to predation and death because they can’t move or run away from danger.
That means that they choose their positioning carefully before they hibernate, usually finding secluded, quiet, dark corners to hide in.
They are often beneath the flooring, in air vents, behind skirting boards, or in other inaccessible spots.
If you see stink bugs wandering around, they have woken up early, but they will usually spend the winter undetected.
Often, you won’t even know they are in your home unless you’re moving boxes or cleaning in crevices.
They are invisible house guests that will quietly take themselves back outdoors as soon as the weather warms up.
Conclusion: When Do Stink Bugs Go Away?
Stink bugs will leave your home when the weather gets warmer, so they go away in spring.
It may be early or late spring, depending on the temperatures in any given year, but they will always move back outside once they can survive and food is becoming more readily available.
If you have a stink bug infestation, you may need to take quicker action than that, but if there are just a few bugs hibernating in your home, you might be able to ignore them and let them leave on their own.
If you want to learn more about stink bugs and various other insects, then checkout some of our hand selected articles:
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