How We Used 3M Vinyl Window Film to Fight STINK BUGS!

When the facility managers at WL Gore’s Elk Run II manufacturing facility in Elkton approached us about installing window film, they weren’t hoping to block UV rays, increase energy efficiency, or reduce glare. No, it wasn’t the sun, it was a different kind of overwhelming, ubiquitous force that they needed our help with. It was the stink bug.

The brown marmorated stink bug has invaded seemingly every home and office in Maryland since about 2010. Attracted to bright light and warmth, stink bugs can swarm the windows and doors of a well-lit building during the night, eventually finding their way inside. Always innovative, WL Gore turned to us to help them solve their stink bug problem by using window film as a way of blocking interior light from attracting them at night.

Finding the Right Window Film Product

We looked at several window film options, starting with a dark tinted window film on the interior of the glass. Then, however, we found that more than three quarters of the windows were blocked by heavy machinery, making installation from the inside impossible.

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Next we considered a reflective exterior window film, which probably would have helped reduce the number of stink bugs the building attracted at night. But that wasn’t enough for WL Gore’s objective, which was to make the building “invisible” to the pests at night. Interior light would have to be blocked completely.

Opaque 3M Vinyl Window Film

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Our solution was to install an opaque 3M vinyl window film on the exterior of the glass. This vinyl film was rated for exterior applications, and reduced almost all visible light from transmitting through the glass. The facilities team chose a dark brown vinyl which matched the building façade, and gave the windows a uniform, aesthetically pleasing look.

The installation was as challenging as the application was unusual. The windows were between 18 and 45 feet off the ground, so we had to bring in a 60-foot straight boom to reach all the highest points. Weaving in and out of the two huge cooling towers next to the building was not an easy task for a slow-moving piece of machinery like a 60-foot lift.

The War On Insects Escalates

In the middle of this long and challenging installation, our CEO Bill Valway “suddenly felt like someone had punched me in the ear,” and found that he was being attacked by a swarm of bees. “Imagine being extended fifty feet in the air in a lift that could only move a few miles an hour, under attack by angry bees,” he said, “it was horrible.”

Obviously, this project had angered the gods of the insect world, (or had, at the very least, angered the insects who lived in this particular office building). We spent the rest of the installation with cans of wasp spray on our hips, jumping every time we saw a flying insect.

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3M Vinyl Window Film Installed on 645 Windows in 4 Days

In the end, we won the war, and the project was a success. We worked long hours to complete the installation on 645 windows in less than 4 days. We dramatically reduced the number of stink bugs attracted to the WL Gore building, and also served to give the exterior a more aesthetically pleasing appearance by blocking the maze of piping and conduit from view from the outside.

This was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable projects we’ve ever worked on. For an article about the brown marmorated stink bug, with advice on controlling them (they ought to add window film to the list!) click here.

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