Do Bugs Stink?

What Bugs Make Your Home Smell Bad?

An errant smell in the home can be an off-putting experience. Swirling thoughts of a potentially odorous insect or rodent invasion are stressful for homeowners, property managers and renters alike. When insects produce a smell, it can be for various reasons, such as communicating using odorous pheromones, as a defense mechanism, or when their bodies are crushed

Smells in the insect world can range from putrid to surprisingly pleasant. Here are a few common (and some exotic) examples of odorous insects:


There are thousands of ant species roaming the earth. One closely associated with human habitation is the odorous house ant, which when crushed has been described as smelling of blue cheese or rotted coconut. Another common and destructive species is the Carpenter Ant, which damages wood structures and can defend itself when threatened by spraying formic acid that smells like vinegar. Surprisingly, some ants may even smell pleasant, like the trap-jaw ant that reportedly gives off an odor of chocolate or the citrusy smell of citronella ants.


Cockroaches have survived hundreds of millions of years on Earth, with the earliest fossil records dating their early ancestors to 55 million years before the first dinosaurs appeared. They have been popularized as creatures that may even outlive humans. Until then, we continue to find that they go to great extents to live among our homes. An infestation of cockroaches gives off an oily or musty odor which can transform into something much more putrid when their bodies decompose and release stinky oleic acid. When large numbers of cockroaches infest common areas of your home, like pantry cupboards and cabinets, the smell can be quite repulsive.

Lady Beetles

Lady beetles are often thought of as a friendly garden insects for their important contribution to controlling pests of food crops. However, they can become a smelly nuisance when they seek a comfortable overwintering shelter inside protected structures and homes. These lady beetles can emit a noxious smell and excrete a yellow fluid from their joints, leaving stains on surfaces and fabrics.

Bed Bugs

You won’t likely smell a bed bug infestation unless it has become very serious. Colonies of large numbers can produce a musty smell of sweet berries, and in lesser numbers, threatened individual bed bugs can release pheromones with a moldy scent to alert others nearby to potential danger.

Stink Bugs

Perhaps the first bug that comes to your mind when thinking of smell is the aptly named stink bug. Though there is much debate about describing their smell – most can agree it is obnoxious. Some liken it to a dusty, cilantro, or sulfur scent. The brown marmorated stink bug is thought to have been accidentally introduced to the US in the late 90s and has since become a devastating agricultural pest. They can also be overwhelming pests inside the home when they swarm indoors. Homeowners must be careful and remove them without squashing and releasing their noxious smell.

Cherry Millipedes

The cherry millipede has the remarkable ability to ooze a toxic cyanide compound when threatened, which is quite a departure from the typical defense strategy that most millipedes use of rolling into a ball. Although this cyanide compound is largely harmless to humans, the scent is quite appealing to our noses, giving off similar notes to sweet cherries and almonds.

Shore Earwigs

This is a bug with an interesting defense tactic that you most definitely should not find in your California home. The shore earwig, native to eastern Australia and New Zealand, has the special ability to secrete a compound with the putrid smell of rotting flesh when it is bitten or threatened by a predator.

Bombardier Beetles

In the world of insect chemical defense, nothing tops the bombardier beetle. When disturbed, it can mix a deadly and smelly concoction of hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide that reaches near boiling before being excreted in a jet stream of remarkable accuracy towards predators. Although there are over 40 species of bombardier beetles in the US, there is no need to lose sleep over them since they are not common household pests. It would, however, be wise to steer clear of any bombardier beetles you come across in the wild.

If you find yourself discovering unwelcome insect residents, trust our expert staff and service at Natrix Pest Control to put you at ease by assessing your insect issue (smelly or not) and proposing a tailored pest solution. Visit our services page to learn which pests we specialize in and contact us to take charge of your extermination.