Home Stink bugs Facts About Stink Bugs-Types, Origin, Habitat & FAQs

Facts About Stink Bugs-Types, Origin, Habitat & FAQs

If by any chance, you came across a stinking little creature, it is probably a stink bug. Find out what it is, its real & scientific name, where it comes from and lives, types, if it can fly what attracts plus more facts  and frequently asked questions.

What are Stink Bugs & where do they come from?

Stink bugs are dark greenish, grayish or brownish. An adult is about two centimeters (0.75 inches) in size. They are shaped like a shield and it is why they’re at times referred to as shield bugs. They have alternating light bands on the antennae and dark bands on the thin outer edge of the abdomen. Find out details on how the look like plus look alikes

what is a stink bug, types, origin can they flying fact & faqs
How a stink bug looks like

Where do they come from?

According to a couple of sources, the brown marmorated stink bug(BMSB) is thought to be native to Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan.

In the United states, some sources report that the BMSB were first recorded in the year 1996, on Adams Island in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they thought to have arrived in shipments from China. Since then, the stink bug has migrated to most parts of America and other countries.

Where do Stink Bugs Live

Well, stink bugs are mostly in the gardens feeding on the vegetation during warm seasons.

However, they may fly into your house. During the cold seasons of the year, they tend to hibernate in warmer conditions such as in homes.

You may not be able to see them in your home as they hide behind furniture and in spaces in walls. Here, they may stay in a low-metabolism state until the cold season is over. They then emerge.

Do Stink Bugs Fly

This depends on the stage in which the stink bug is in. For instance, during nymphal stages, they are not able to fly as at this stage, they have no wings developed.

However, as they grow and develop, they acquire wings and are therefore able to fly.

The wings and its legs have been attached to the thorax, which is the middle segment of the body. There are front and back wings with the back wings designed to be thinner than the former. The front wings happen to have a tough base.

In as much as they do have wings at this age, they tend to fly for short distances without much consistency and hence prefer settling on the walls, ground and leaves. You wouldn’t compare a housefly to a stink bug when it comes to flying.

What attracts stink bugs-why do they come to your house?

According to entomologists stink bugs get attracted to the following

  1. A kitchen that has ripe fruits
  2. Your indoor ornamental plants
  3. The warmth your house provides especially during the winter
  4. An LED light in your house. Which is how some stink bug traps actually work.

 Stink Bug Types

Brown marmorated stink bug

Brown marmorated stink bug is the most common stink bug you will see around. It has an abdomen thath is red and orange with stripes of black as you go towards the edges and towards the center of the abdomen.

cycle Stages of the brown marmorated stink bug
brown marmorated stink bug

It lays eggs that are green in color deposited underneath leaves in an aggregate of about 25 eggs. When the nymphs age up into adults, the head becomes darker and so does the pronotum.

The reason it is known as a marmorated stink bug is due to the presence of black spots on the edges of the abdomen. The antennae defines its order classification as it is striped with white and black, making it a pentatomidae. The legs are also white banded.

Southern green stink bug

This stink bug has green dominant on its body with some red bands on the antennae. During the nymphal stages, the instars are characterized with a white and green blend of spots on the abdomen.

southern green stink bug image
southern green stink bug

When adults, the green is repeated on the antennae but this time with red bands on the antennae. Unlike the brown marmorated stink bug which has an aggregate of 25 eggs per cluster, this stink bug has about 150.

Other types

The brown marmorated and southern green stink bugs are the commonest of all the stink bugs. There are other many other types of stink bugs that you will rarely see. It is however good to know about them and this article selects some for your consumption:

Dusky stink bug

It is also known as Euschistus tristigmus and is brown in color with shoulders that are more pointed. This latter feature is what distinguishes this stink bug from the brown stink bug.

Brown stink bug

It is also referred to as Euschistus servus. When compared to the dusky stink bug, the brown stink bug has a more rounded shoulder while the former has pointed shoulders making it sharper.

Consperse stink bug

The Euschistus conspersus also a look-alike of the brown stink bug in general appearance. What will differentiate it from the brown stink bug is the fact that it has black spots that are much larger on the legs. This would be the best shot you would have at differentiating the two.

Rice stink bug, Oebalus pugnax

 It must have a way of camouflaging in rice fields with its white and brown coloration on the nymphs. When they are adults, there is a yellow coloration to the scutellum and just as in the dusky stink bugs, has pointed shoulders that are forward pointed.

Redshouldered stink bug, Thyanta custator

It has white, red and black tinges on its nymphs. The white and red are on the thorax while the abdomen is laden with black and some stripes of orange with a slight indentation to red. The shoulders are red banded making it resemble a red tie on the stink bugs. The scutellum, the central part of the top abdomen, has a red tip.

Redbanded stink bug, Piezodorus guildinii

Unlike others which are green or white, this one has a dark red ranging to brown coloration on its eggs. It is further interesting to note that the nymphs, in the later instars, are green while still retaining the brown and red striping on the edges of the body and on the scutellum.

The adults become even shinier with a green-yellow and some two stripes cutting across the pronotum. The pronotum separates the head form the top of the abdomen, the scutellum.

Euschistus quadrator

 bares some similarity to the brown stink bug mentioned earlier when they are in the egg and nymphal stages and in the later instars.

When they have developed into adults, they then resemble the dusky stink bug. The only difference between the dusky stink bug and this bug is on the shape of the pronotum.

The pronotum in dusky stink bug is concave while this one has a convex pronotum. It also does not have spots seen in the dusky stink bug.

Harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica

It has black and orange-red on its nymphs. The colors on this bug are shiny on the pronotum and they also mark the scutellum and the edges of the abdomen.

There is a white striping on the abdomen too in this stage. When they are adults, a black develops which is easily made out in the orange and red marks.

Painted bug, Bagrada hilaris

It has a body which is black on color with some lighter sheds of orange on the thorax, abdomen and the head. This bug has some resemblance to the Harlequin bug thought the Harlequin bug is much larger in size.

Scientific Info-Name, Anatomy

Like all insects, it has its body divided into three segments. In addition to the segmented antennae and body, the stink bug has a segmented ‘beak’. Among other features that make it an insect is its three pairs of legs

You can never overestimate the name accorded to this insect. It stinks when crushed and this is attributed to its stink gland which is located on its thorax.

The stink gland serves various purposes including defense and a chemotaxic agent through which it can call on other stink bugs.

Moreover, its exoskeleton, which is a tough shell on its body, also serves a protective purposes against physical trauma.

One essential feature of stink bugs is its feeding apparatus. While the stink bugs are insects, they have are unable to chew.

This is in effect due to the rostrums they possess that bear some resemblance to a bird’s beak. Since stink bugs are predominantly feed on plants while others feed on other insects.

Scientific name

‘Stink bugs’ is a common name that is used in reference to an insect biologically or scientifically known by different names. This depends on the genus of the stink bug’s sub-family, genus and the species and other lower more specific taxa.

What determines the scientific name of any living thing is its genus, species and sub-species.

There are many stink bugs that are of agricultural importance and according to a publication, ‘Field Guide to of Agricultural Importance  in the United States’, there are about 35 stink bugs mentioned.

Some of them are common while others have just recently been identified and classified and are still rare. Here are some of the scientific names that you might come across:

  1. Halyomorpha halys
  2. Acrosternum hilare
  3. Nezara viridula
  4. Euschistus servus
  5. Oebalus pugnax
  6. Thyanta custator accerra
  7. Murgantia histrionica
  8. Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale

Stink bug order

The stink bug is classified under the order Hemiptera. This is a taxonomic class that houses true bugs, hoppers, aphids and cicadas and are about 50,000 to about 80,000 species.

In the order taxon, stink bugs are in the sub-order Heteroptera and the infraorder Pentatomorpha. Stink bugs are considered true bugs.

They are of the size between 1 mm to about 15 cm in length. In this order, the insects feed on plants and therefore, have mouthparts well configured for this with a sucking and a piercing mouthpart to extract sap.

There are others in this order which are predators as seen in some stink bugs too.

Stink bug family

Stink bugs are in the family pentatomidae and the superfamily Pentatomoidea. It is also worth noting that there are sub-families and stink bugs belong to the sub-family Asopinae, Pentatominae and Podominae.

In the pentatomidae family, the stink bugs are the general reference while sub-families describe stink bugs further. For instance, there are turtle bugs in the sub-family Podominae.

However, there are exceptions to this rule with the insects in the family Acanthosomatidae being referred to as shied bugs such as the Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale.

Stink bug in Spanish & French

Different languages have different ways of referring to the stink bug. This is a pungent smelling insect and therefore, names accorded would particularly refer to this attribute.

For instance in Spanish, stink bugs are known as Chinche apestosa. Apestosa means ‘stinky’ while Chinche means ‘bug’ in Spanish.

Among the French, stink bugs are referred to as Punaise puante. Puanteur means ‘stink’ while punaise means ‘bug’

Do stink bugs spray

Stink bugs employ a defense mechanism that involves emitting a pungent liquid from their stink glands under the abdomen.

The emitted liquid does not just ooze out when squashed but tends to spray the liquid into the air. This makes the liquid’s malodorous nature spread in the air. However, it does not merely just spray the liquid as does a skunk.

What do stink bugs do?

Stink bugs are normally active during the period of May to October. During this period of time, they mate and reproduce.

Other parts of the year is a hibernation period for them during which they may enter your house and hide for the whole winter and enter a state of reduced metabolism.

The females and males do different jobs during the active periods of the year. The females are known to provide protection for their eggs against any damage or threat.

During the active period, they feed actively on your garden and result in lots of damage. Others are however predatory in nature and don’t feed on the plants as much.

Further Reading