What Do Stink Bugs Eat?

stink bug on wood

If you were born in the United States during, or before, the 1990s, it is unlikely that you ever saw a marmorated stink bug when you were a child. Reason being, stink bugs didn't come to the United States until the late 1990s. At least this is when they were first reported. It is believed by some that these insects were first brought from China as stowaways in cargo. According to research sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, the marmorated stink bug was first identified in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1998. A mere 19 years later, they have managed to spread throughout Pennsylvania and into at least 38 of the remaining states, including ours. In fact, it is rumored that they are bigger here in Texas. But perhaps that would not be such a good thing.  

What do stink bugs look like? 

These insects have a shield-shaped body that is a mottled brownish-grey color. As adults, they are approximately 17 mm (5/8 of in inch) in length. Their 4th antennal segment (out of 5 total) has a white band. Several abdominal segments that protrude from beneath their wings are banded with black and white. Their underside is white and sometimes has grey or black markings. Their legs are brown with faint white banding. 

These insects go through 5 nymphal stages, or instars. Nymphs are more brightly colored with red and black markings. They have dark reddish eyes and a yellowish-red abdomen with black stripes. Their legs and antennae are black with white banding. In the first instar, they have a tick-like appearance, are quite inactive, and remain near the egg mass from which they hatched. If you are looking for the eggs of this insect, you will want to look on the underside of leaves. Stink bug eggs are a light green color, elliptical in shape, and are often deposited in a mass of approximately 30 eggs.  

What do stink bugs eat? 

The brown marmorated stink bug is attracted to a wide variety of crops. They will devour most any fruit but they are particularly fond of pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, raspberries, blueberries, and grapes. They are also happy to consume snap peas, tomatoes, lima beans, sweet corn, field corn, soybeans, bush beans, cucumbers, peppers and more. Inside a home, they will be happy to feed on house plants or fruit that has been left out. 

They are also known to eat various seeds and seed pods of ornamental trees and shrubs, which means they can become a major landscape-destroying pest. When they feed, they are able to spread plant diseases from one plant to the next. But the problems these bugs cause don't stop there. 

What problems do these insects cause to homeowners?

  • Stink bug, as their name indicates, stink. If they are crushed, they emit a foul-smelling odor that has been likened to the smell of rotten coconut.

  • These smelly insects also have a habit of dive-bombing unsuspecting persons. Stink bugs are able to fly, but not very well. It is not uncommon for them to be flying erratically through a room and then suddenly drop onto a plate of food, a pot of simmering stew, or someone's head.

  • Stink bugs make a stain if crushed. The smelly substance that these bugs put off can also cause staining that can be difficult to get out of some fabrics.

  • Stink bugs can be tempting for animals and small children to eat. If eaten, they have an awful taste. And while it is unlikely an animal or child will make that mistake more than once, it's better to not have these bugs around in the first place.

  • These insects attract other insects. Wasps, spiders and other insect predators love making a stink bug into a meal. If stink bugs are dying within your wall voids, this will be an attractant for other unwanted household pests, which will create a whole new set of problems. 

If you find a few stink bugs in your home, you may be able to keep them under control by vacuuming them up and diligently keeping watch for more bugs. But if they have had time to multiply, you may need to call for help. Here at Innovative Pest Control, we can get rid of your stink bug problem, and a whole host of other invading pests, in no time at all. With our effective pest management services, you can rest assured that you're home is protected. To learn more about our year-round pest control programs or to schedule a service visit for your East Texas home, contact us! We looking forward to serving you!

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