Stink Bugs Facts

Learning stink bugs facts can help you understand the insects and get rid of an infestation. As their name implies, stink bugs emit a rather unpleasant odor when crushed or found living together in large groups. Although stink bugs are not harmful to humans and pets, they damage nearly all wild plants.

Description. One of the stink bug facts that entomologists will remember is that stink bugs belong to the order Hemiptera. There are many varieties of stink bugs, including the common brown marmorated stink bug, green stink bug and southern green stink bug. All species of stink bugs have five-sided bodies that are shaped like shields. They can grow up to ¾ inches long. Marmorated stink bugs are brownish-yellow, while green stink bugs are bright green with yellow-orange lines on the perimeter of their bodies.

Feeding Habits. Stink bugs have straw-like mouthparts suitable for sucking sap and juices from plants. Stink bugs feed on cultivated crops, vines, weeds, shrubs, trees and many wild plants. They use their mouthpieces to pierce the plant and draw out juices. As stink bugs mature, they prefer to feed on soybeans if available. Although most stink bugs are herbivores, some rare species feed on caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects.

Damage. Plants with stink bug infestations will develop unsightly brown spots at each location the bugs pierce. The leaves, buds and flowers of plants will lose their liveliness. Stink bugs will cause fruit and vegetable bearing plants to produce much less. The damage also increases the plant’s risk of contracting diseases.

Reproduction. During June, female stink bugs lay hundreds of eggs in clusters on the leaves and stems of plants. The eggs hatch into larvae that molt five times. In about five weeks, the metamorphosis is complete and the larvae are now adults. A useful stink bug fact to remember is that the insects reach the highest numbers during late-September and early-October.

Control. Outdoor stink bugs are best controlled with insecticides. However, insecticides should not be used indoors because they can harm to children and animals. Prevention is the best control for indoor stink bugs. Fill any gaps around your doorframes or windowsills to keep the pesky insects from entering your home. If you find stink bugs indoors, crush them, vacuum them up or throw them outside in freezing temperatures. If you vacuum up many stink bugs, empty the canister or throw the bag away to prevent awful smells.

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