Stinkbugs Will Stay Out Of Your Garden With One Essential Oil

Brown marmorated stinkbugs, with their camouflaged bodies and innocent beetle-like appearance, may not raise any alarm bells when you first start seeing them in the garden. However, as you begin to see more of them and notice your garden vegetables begin to suffer, you will probably start putting two and two together. In fact, despite looking very docile and being harmless to humans, marmorated stinkbugs are an invasive pest (via the EPA) and can cause all kinds of havoc by using their long tube-like mouths to pierce into your plants and suck them dry. Unfortunately, with stinkbugs, you can't just squish them because they release a foul-smelling chemical odor as a natural defense mechanism (hence the name).


The good news? There's an easy way to keep them out of your garden and it involves one essential oil — peppermint. In fact, you can keep stinkbugs off of your plants by mixing 10 drops of peppermint essential oil with two cups of water and then spraying your affected plants with the mixture. This works because stinkbugs are very sensitive to the odor of mint and will avoid a plant that smells like it. You may have to repeat the process once every few days to make sure the aroma of mint stays strong until all the stinkbugs have been safely evicted.

Why stinkbugs are bad

Whenever you see brown marmorated stinkbugs in your garden, it's a good idea to start taking preventative measures as the species is quite invasive. Although they first came to the United States from Asia in 1996, they've already spread throughout the contiguous U.S. and have begun causing serious crop damage in certain regions. While the effect of stinkbugs in a garden may not be noticeable at first, you can be sure that if you see them, they are feeding on at least some of your plants. In particular, stinkbugs are attracted to fruits and vegetables, from apples and tomatoes to peppers and sweet corn.


Besides the damage to your garden, one of the most annoying aspects of having stinkbugs is that they like to move inside when the weather gets cold. While stinkbugs are not harmful and can't bite humans, it can be annoying to have them in your house, especially if your child or pet accidentally disturbs them and causes them to spray their defensive odor. While sometimes you may just have one or two bugs in your home, if they think your home is warm and cozy, they may release a chemical odor to tell other stinkbugs what a great place it is, causing an infestation.

Other ways to keep stinkbugs away

Because stinkbugs are pretty resistant to being booted from areas with good food access, you may have to use a mixture of multiple methods to keep the little critters off your plants. Besides the smell of peppermint, stinkbugs also dislike the smell of garlic. Spraying a solution of garlic powder and water on your plants may also be effective in keeping stinkbugs away without harming them. Other ways to ethically keep stinkbugs out of your garden include growing plants that they don't like (such as mint, catnip, citronella, and lavender) and spraying affected plants with neem oil.


If you'd like to remove stinkbugs with prejudice, you can create a chemical-free insecticide by mixing dish soap and water and then spraying the plants and bugs directly with it. You can also pick the stinkbugs off your plants (while wearing garden gloves) and drop them into a bucket of soapy water for extra effectiveness. This method works because the dish soap can get through the wax coating of the stinkbug's exoskeleton and clog its breathing tubes. At the same time, you can also try attracting more stinkbug predators to your yard. Animals that often eat these annoying pests include toads, birds, and bats.