Stinkbugs

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The brown marmorated stinkbug, an insect not previously seen on our continent, was apparently accidentally introduced to the US. Stinkbugs, also sometimes referred to as shield bugs, are members of the hemiptera order. They are aptly named because these bugs have small glands located on their thorax that are capable of emitting a malodorous liquid. This ability is believed to be a defensive mechanism they employ against predators and when a stinkbug is mishandled, it will in fact defensively release an odor.

There are several different families of stinkbugs, ranging in color from brown to brilliant green and they exist in various parts of the world. They are recognized by, a triangular shaped plate on their backs. Most stinkbugs are plant eaters, making them an agricultural pest insect, but a few are predatory and are welcome because they eat other pest insects. Stink bugs have the ability to reproduce rapidly and can pose a threat to crops if they become abundant. However, many times they feed only on one host plant and may cause only minimal, cosmetic damage. They tend to prefer fruit, though vegetable and cotton crops, has been’ known to be affected by stinkbugs.

Adults are approximately 17 mm long (25 mm = one inch) and are shades of brown on both the upper and lower body surfaces. They are the typical “shield” shape of other stinkbugs, almost as wide as they are long. To distinguish them from other stinkbugs, look for lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the membranous, overlapping part at the rear of the front pair of wings. Their eyes are a deep red. They have patches of coppery or bluish-metallic colored punctures (small rounded depressions) on the head and pronotum. The name “stinkbug” refers to the scent glands located on the dorsal surface of the abdomen and the underside of the thorax. The abdomen is a yellowish red in the first instars and progresses to off-white with reddish spots in the fifth instar. Protuberances are found before each of the abdominal scent glands on the dorsal surface. The legs, head and thorax are black. Spines are located on the femur, before each eye, and several on the lateral margins of the thorax.

Stinkbug eggs are elliptical (1.6 x 1.3 mm), light yellow to yellow-red with minute spines forming fine lines. They are attached, side-by-side, to the underside of leaves in masses of 20 to 30 eggs. There are five nymphal instars (immature stages). They range in size from the first instars at 2.4 mm to the fifth instars that is 12 mm in length.

Don’t let stinkbugs take over your home.