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Stink Bugs 101: What Do Stink Bugs Look Like? (Plus 8 Facts)

September 8, 2016
Stink Bugs

If you’ve come across a large, oval-shaped insect invading your home, there is a chance that it may be a stink bug. A lot of scientists describe a stink bug as “oval-shaped,” but there are a lot of bugs that fit into this description.

We’re going to take a closer look at this bugs so you can identify a stink bug quickly and easily.

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1. What Do Stink Bugs Look Like?Close-up the stinkbug isolated on white background.

This depends on the stage of life a stink bug is in. In terms of size, the average stink bug can reach 2cm in length, and they’re similar in width. What’s unique about these bugs is that they have large legs that extend from their sides that make them look a lot bigger than they really are.

A stink bug’s life cycle begins when they hatch from their eggs as a nymph.

Small, these nymphs will start to shed their skin as they grow. This process is called molting. Each time a bug molts, it becomes larger. And stink bugs will shed their skin five times before they go from baby stink bugs to adult stink bugs.

These bugs will also have wings on top of their body that allows them to fly.

Adult stink bugs are proficient fliers. A lot of people question “do stink bugs fly?,” and that depends on the time in the lifecycle. Baby stink bugs have wings that aren’t fully developed, so they cannot fly when they’re born.

But when a baby reaches adulthood, they’ll be able to fly very well.

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Fully developed wings are a defining characteristic of adult stink bugs. If the stink bug you’re looking at doesn’t have fully developed wings, it is still a baby.

2. Colors and Types of Stink Bugs

There are a lot of different types of stink bugs, and they’re defined by their color. The most common stink bugs include:A colorful stink bug on a green leaf in nature.

  • Green Stink Bugs: Green in color, these bugs measure 12 – 13mm in length. When they first hatch, these bugs are black but turn green as they molt.
  • Marmorated Stink Bugs: Marmorated species can be brown in color as adults, but when they’re nymphs, this stink bug can be yellow or red. Their eyes are red when they’re nymphs.

If you’ve heard of Asian stink bugs or Japanese stink bugs, these are simply brown marmorated stink bugs.

But there are different types of stink bugs specific to some regions. They all tend to look the same, but they have different colors. Red stink bugs with black markings can be found in Kentucky, for example.

3. Common Stink Bugs Depending on Region

There are stink bugs all across the world, but in the United States, you may find different stink bugs if you’re in Wisconsin or Texas, among many other states. A few of the most common stinks bugs can be found in:

  • Florida: Stink bugs in Florida include the species above, but they also have the Florida predatory stink bug. This bug preys on a lot of beneficial bugs in the state, making them a nuisance.
  • Georgia: Stink bugs in Georgia include the brown marmorated stink bug, but the state was overrun with the Kudzu stink bug, which looks a lot like a lady bug but brown, in recent years.
  • Michigan: Stink bugs in Michigan are primarily the brown marmorated. The cold climate allows for less exotic species to come into the state.
  • Oregon: Stink bugs in Oregon are also the brown marmorated, but you may also come across the rough stink bug, the banasa dimidiate and the chinavia hilaris. These are stink bugs scientific names to describe different species.
  • Texas: Stink bugs in Texas are typically the brown marmorated, green stink bug (babies), and the southern green stink bug. The state is also home to the Dentate stink beetle.
  • Wisconsin: Stink bugs in Wisconsin are a lot like the ones seen in Oregon: marmorated, banasa dimidiate and red-backed stink bug.

4. What Is a Stink Bug Anyway?

Stink bugs are part of the Pentatomidae insect family. These bugs are called the Halyomorpha halys, which is the scientific name for the Brown Marmorated stink bug. What many people don’t know is that these bugs aren’t native to the United States.

The stink bug is native to: China, Taiwan and Japan.

The species has been well-known, but it was introduced into the United States in 1998. The first species was collected in this year, but it could have been introduced earlier. Introduction was on accident, and it wasn’t until 2010 – 2011 that these agricultural pests became a season-long pest that started to attack orchards year round.

An issue with these bugs is that they’re very invasive, and they can cause widespread damage to fruit and vegetable crops.

5. What do Stink Bugs Eat?

You only have to look at what these bugs eat to understand how they can cause so much destruction. The brown marmorated, the most common bug, was stowed away in packing crates that were shipped from China or Japan before arriving in the United States.

The first documentation of the species was in Allentown, Pennsylvania in September 1998.

And as a result, these bugs were found where they like to eat: near farms.

These stink bugs will host on a variety of plants, including:

  • Green beans
  • Soybeans
  • ApplesA stink bug is eating green apple on the white.
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Raspberries

And when these bugs eat, they pierce the food and suck out the inside of the plants to feed. Small in size, their feeding doesn’t kill the entire plant, but it causes damage, especially when multiple bugs feed at a time.

Leaf stippling occurs, seed loss and the transmission of plant pathogens is possible, too.

Dimples can occur in the fruit of the plant as well as necrotic areas.

6. Do Stink Bugs Stink?

As the name suggests, these bugs do stink. The smell is caused by the trans-2 Octenal and trans-2 decenal. The scent of the bug is emitted through small holes found in the bug’s abdomen. This is a defense mechanism much like what would be found on a skunk.

The bug will not smell unless it feels threatened.

If the bug is threatened by its natural predators, namely birds or lizards, it will emit a smell. In terms of human interaction, these bugs will go on the defensive and emit an odor when handled, moved or squished.

7. What Do Stink Bugs Smell Like?

The smell of a stink bug is considered to be pungent. This is a smell that isn’t as strong as, say, a skunk, and it’s said to smell a lot like coriander. What many people don’t realize is that the smell of the bug actually comes from chemicals found in many food additives – seriously.

Of course, each species has its own unique scent, but all scents smell like a mixture of herbs.

The chemicals found in the stink bug’s odor are the same chemicals that you’ll find in cilantro. Luckily for you, this smell of herbs and spices isn’t as foul as the smell of other insects and animals.

And the smell can last for hours.

If you suck a bug up into your vacuum, the inside of the vacuum will also smell strongly. Flying stink bugs, the adults, when attacked, often move out of the way of danger but will still emit a smell in the process.

8. Where Do Stink Bugs Nest?

Stink bugs are attracted to warm climates. These bugs can reproduce all year long, and they are often found in residential areas and parks. You’ll find that they nest all over the country most parts of the year.

But when the winter months come along, they’ll hide under stones or in weeds.

In the winter, if the temperatures are cold, these bugs will go into hibernation and wait for the warm weather to return. Since these pests can live for up to one year, they can easily survive the winter and start invading crops once again.

Eggs are deposited on the back of leaves.

When the stink bug comes out of its winter phase, it will be hungry and will swarm to the nearest food source. Bugs will often go to wild plants, grass, leaves and anything it can feed on. When it finds itself on a leaf, it lays eggs soA group of children stink bugs on a green leaf. that when the nymphs hatch, they have a food source at their disposal.

Since nymphs don’t have fully developed wings, this makes their lives much easier.

And the main issue and cause for infestation in the home is that the bugs will seek shelter in a warm area during the winter. Small in size and able to fly, they’ll often come into your home. Sometimes, they will still hibernate and will all come out after the winter is over.

Stink bugs will often skip the hibernation phase if you keep your home warm enough during the winter months or if there is a sunny day. But for the most part, they’ll wait until spring before emerging and continuing to live outside of the confines of your home.

There have been cases where a person has been infested with over 25,000 stink bugs – now that’s a stinky situation.

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