Do Stink Bugs Really Stink?

Do stink bugs really stink? Or is that just an exaggeration? Well, you know the old saying “there’s only one way to find out”?

Wait… Never mind, don’t try this at home, kids. Because I would highly recommend that you don’t try to find out whether stink bugs really stink or not!

Take it from me, from first hand experience! The odor that they emit is not exactly a pleasant one. Trust me, when you squash a stink bug, only to get a whiff of its stench in your face, you won’t be sitting there saying “yum…. that smells good. Let me squash some more stink bugs just so I can catch another whiff of this smell”.

And you want to know something really ironic? Many people can attest to the fact that the odor that stink bugs emanate bears a striking resemblance to the smell of the herb known as cilantro!

Yet, when it comes to the stink bug stench, it is downright putrid. But when you smell cilantro, it can be an extremely pleasant culinary aroma.

(Although me personally, after my first encounter with stink bugs and smelling them, I was a little turned off from eating any foods prepared with cilantro for a few weeks.)

In all seriousness, the fact of the matter is that the chemical released by stink bugs as their self-defense mechanism does indeed contain the same compound as that found in cilantro. This has been scientifically proven.

(So does that mean that stink bugs evolved from cilantro?? Nobody can say that for sure, but I don’t think animals and insects ever evolved from plant life, but there may be some evolutionary, genetic relationship that exists between these two, that scientists have yet to discover.)

Isn’t it amazing that of all the self defense mechanisms that every animal or insect on the face of this earth possess, the stink bug should be gifted with that of a foul stench? They don’t bite. They don’t sting. They just emit an odor when they are attacked or frightened, not unlike how a skunk does.

What is interesting about it is that this stench is sufficient to drive away just about any predator, including human beings!

The difference is that we human beings know that stink bugs smell like cilantro, an odor that many of us humans actually find to be quite pleasant.

So does this mean that the effect that this smell has on humans is purely psychological? I mean, what if a person were to be blindfolded and were subjected to a “smell test”. You bring a plate of cilantro up to their nose and have them smell it? And then you bring a plate that has a dead stink bug laden bathed in its own odor?

If you were blindfolded and subjected to such a smell test, would you be able to discern the difference? Would you be able to tell which one is the stink bug and which one is the actual cilantro?

Now the question arises as to whether this smell is harmful for you in any way? Or is it just an annoying nuisance?

One thing is for sure! When the smell gets on your skin, you really need to scrub hard with soap and hot water in order to get it off! And if the smell gets on your clothes, they need to go in the laundry right away! The smell is quite potent and can be extremely stubborn to remove. So it is definitely a nuisance! Getting rid of that stink bug smell can be quite a challenge.

As for whether it is harmful for you or not, entomologists (scientists who study insects) have established that it doesn’t cause you harm in any way. But then again, you probably wouldn’t want to swim in a vat of the chemical they release. but the nominal quantity that a single stink bug sprays on you is not enough to cause any type of skin irritation or anything of that sort.

But the bottom line is that it is this stink that makes exterminating stink bugs into a real challenge. Because, unlike other insects such as roaches or ants, the last thing you want to do is squash them, let alone even frighten them! If you even try to shoo them away or swat at them, they will release that odor!

Therefore, what is the best way how to deal with the stink bug problem? Well, you need to come up with creative ways how to kill stink bugs using techniques that involve stealth… such that you can catch them by surprise, quarantine them, and kill them before they even have a chance to emit that odor…. or if you are able to quarantine them, then at least when they do emit that odor, it will be contained within an enclosure so that it doesn’t get anywhere else.

Some examples of how to do this might be to set up stink bug traps, or to simply vacuum them up when you see them. Or if you aren’t afraid of bugs, you could gently lure them onto a paper towel and then escort them outside of your house and release them into the wild (hoping that they won’t come back, but the issue of how to protect your home from further invasions of stink bugs is a whole different topic altogether).

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