Stink Bugs Will Be A Thing Of The Past With One Handy Herb

Spotting a stink bug, a bigger-than-most type of crawling insect, in your home can be alarming, especially when you know that if the bug gets squished, it's going to smell bad. Yet, there may be another way to get rid of the insect, and naturally, too: Simply fight the stink bug's stinky smell with another pungent odor — bay leaves. This herb, it turns out, is a natural repellant for stink bugs because of its strong, deep scent. If you have bay leaves growing in your kitchen herb garden or you have some dried bay leaves in the cabinet, you may have already on hand one of the easiest natural bug repellents available.

Stink bugs tend to gravitate toward warm locations, especially when the temperatures start to drop as they look for a place to overwinter. They'll get in your home through very small holes in screens, entry doors, or air gaps under siding. They don't create a health risk to most people, but like any other nuisance, it's a good idea to take steps to keep stink bugs out.

The best first step is to seal any type of openings that are encouraging the stink bugs to get in (especially cracks in wood, around water lines, or window screens). They also are drawn to moisture, so ensure the areas surrounding windows and other openings are dry. Then, place a few bay leaves in those problem areas. The fresher the leaves are, the more effective they are at keeping these bugs away.

Why stink bugs stay away from bay leaves

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a rather large insect that does a great job of infiltrating into warm spaces through tiny holes and opportunity points. Typically worse in the spring months and again in the fall, these bugs are easy to spot climbing on window screens, walls, and even the ceiling (there's nothing quite like one falling onto your desk from a high spot on the ceiling without warning!). A study published by the Journal of Economic Entomology found that these insects can get through openings as tiny as 3 millimeters, making it hard to block them out fully in any home.

That's why attacking stink bugs through the use of scent can work well. Bay leaves have a very strong, almost-medicinal odor, and many pests are repelled by it. The herb's scent doesn't actually hurt them, but they don't like smelling it and therefore are less likely to approach an area where there's a significant presence of bay leaves. Bay leaf contains linalool, a very potent compound that contributes to its scent.

How to use bay leaves to repel stink bugs

If you enjoy the relaxing scent of bay leaves (linalool is a stress-reducing herb compound for humans), using it to keep stink bugs away is rather easy to do. Purchase a bay leaf plant to grow in your kitchen or near any windowsill where these pests are known to get into your home. That's the simplest of routes to take, but there are a few others.

You can purchase dry bay leaves, often found in the spice aisle, to use in the same way. Place one bay leaf at each window, near the doorways, or in any other area where stink bugs might enter. Dry bay leaves are a fantastic option because they don't require any care and tend to maintain their scent for a few months. Replace the leaves every month for continuous protection.

These are effective strategies but use them in conjunction with other ways to get rid of stink bugs, including keeping food sources, like garbage cans, empty and treating your home's flowerbeds and landscaping in general for pests. And, if they do manage to get in anyway, remember not to squash them, as their scent will attract others to the area. Instead, use a vacuum to suck the stink bugs up and dispose of them outside your home.