Build Your Own Stink Bug Trap

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The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), an invasive insect originating in Asia and first identified in the United States in 2001, has become a pest to agriculture and an annoyance to Maryland residents. Stink bugs are members of the “true bug” order of the insect world (Hemiptera) and feed on the leaves and fruits of plants. Their expansion in the U.S. has wreaked havoc on commercial crops of apples, peaches, and soybeans.

Although they are not harmful to people, pets, or houses, the presence of stink bugs in our homes is undeniably unpleasant because of the pungent odor they emit when disturbed. Fortunately, there is a simple, inexpensive, and chemical-free solution to ridding your house of these pests—build a funnel trap to capture and dispose of the bugs safely without pesticides.

How does it work? A funnel trap uses a few basic principles of insect behavior and physics to entice and capture stink bugs in your home.

  • Attraction to light. Many insects, including stink bugs, are attracted to light and will attempt to move as close as they can to the brightest light in a given environment. The LED light in your trap acts as a powerful lure.
  • Limited agility along thin edges. Stink bugs, unlike smaller insects such as ants or flies, are relatively clumsy with their heavy plated bodies. Once they reach the top of your funnel trap in pursuit of the light, they will teeter on the thin edge only briefly before falling into the funnel.
  • Limited maneuverability in an enclosed space. Stink bugs have limited maneuverability once they are inside your funnel trap. It is difficult for them to fly up to or crawl through the hole in your funnel to escape, making the funnel trap a very effective device.

Build a simple funnel trap

Photo of the fully assembled stink bug trap.
The fully assembled stink bug trap.

What you will need:

1 straight-sided 2-liter bottle (clear plastic, not green)
black electrical tape
masking tape
razor blade or utility knife
1 LED stick-on light (approx. 3-in. diameter)
batteries for LED light
pen or similar-sized blunt instrument

The instructions below are adapted from JRProductionPGH’s video BEST Stink Bug Trap EVER (see link in References for an audiovisual-enhanced step-by-step guide to building your funnel trap and detailed explanations of the principles behind a funnel trap).

Assembling the funnel trap

  1. Thoroughly empty and rinse your clear plastic 2-liter bottle, removing and discarding the bottle cap. Leave the bottle’s label on for the next step.
  2. Using the top edge of the label as a guide for your incision, carefully cut the top of the bottle off with the razor blade or utility knife. Set the bottle top aside. Remove the label from the bottle base. NOTE: Using a razor blade or utility knife is important to ensure a clean edge to the cut; scissors may create a jagged edge that will make it difficult to achieve a tight seal in step 5.
  3. Using the black electrical tape, “black out” the bottom 1/3 of the bottle by wrapping the tape around the base of the bottle, making sure there are no gaps between the strips of tape. NOTE: This step is critical to encouraging stink bugs to climb up the sides of your trap to the funnel in search of the light rather than congregating outside your trap at its base.
  4. Insert the batteries in your LED light according to package directions. Place the LED light in the center of the base of your bottle. NOTE: You will turn on the light in step 7 using the pen/blunt object.
  5. Invert the bottle top “funnel” you created in step 2 and place it inside the bottle base, aligning the edges of the funnel and the bottle base to create a tight seal.
  6. Create “ladders” for the stink bugs to enter your funnel trap by applying four approximately equally spaced vertical strips of masking tape, starting at the base of your trap and folding slightly over the top edge of the funnel. NOTE: The masking tape’s rough texture will give the stink bugs enough friction to climb to the top of the trap, where they will fall into the funnel.
  7. After dark, insert your pen or similar-sized blunt instrument down into the hole of the funnel to press the LED light to turn it on.
  8. Place the lighted trap in an unobstructed location in your house and wait for your overnight harvest.

Safely disposing of captured stink bugs

  1. Kill your trapped stink bugs safely without toxic chemicals by enclosing the entire trap in a plastic bag, sealing the bag tightly, and putting the bagged trap in a freezer overnight.
  2. Empty the trap by gently peeling back the four strips of masking tape at the top of the trap, removing the funnel, and dumping the dead bugs into the garbage.
  3. Reinsert the funnel into the base, reseal the masking tape, and your trap is ready for redeployment.

References

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. University of Maryland Extension. Home and Garden Information Center. http://www.hgic.umd.edu/content/BrownMarmoratedStinkBug.cfm

BEST Stink Bug Trap EVER. JRProductionsPGH. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwUuHhWYvDA&feature=player_embedded.

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