are stink bugs dangerous

Are Stink Bugs Dangerous? Everything You Need to Know

With so many species of stink bugs in the world, it’s very easy to get caught up in the web of misinformation about them. You might also be wondering if you should be worried about the stink bugs in your backyard garden. But are stink bugs dangerous? This article will address this concern, telling you everything you need to know about these bugs.

What Are Stink Bugs?

Stink Bugs

A stink bug is a brown marmorated insect belonging to the family of Pentatomidae, which is native to Asian countries like Japan, China, Korea, etc. Although this insect is predominantly found in Asia, it’s still available in other parts of the world including the United States. In the USA, this bug was first noticed in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where it’s assumed to have been transported accidentally.

The elves and adults of this bug feed on more than 100 species of plants, most of which are agricultural crops. That’s why you have to work extra hard to get them out of your kitchen garden or farm. Stink bugs became season-long pests in orchard farms in the Eastern USA in early 2011 when they were reported to destroy over $37 million worth of apple crops.

In the same period, a section of stone fruit farmers in the Mid-Atlantic USA lost over 90 percent of their crops to stink bugs. Since late 2010, stink bugs have spread to other parts of the USA and the world at large, including Georgia and Turkey, where they have been wreaking havoc on hazelnut farms. They’re now found in many parts of North America, Europe, Africa, and South America.

Description of a Stink Bug

A typical stink but is approximately 1.7 cm long and about as wide. The size gives the bug a heraldic shield silhouette, which is the main characteristic of bugs belonging to the superfamily Pentatomoidea. The bug is dark-brown when seen from above, while its underside is creamy white brown.

However, their individual colors may vary, depending on the species and family. Some may have several shades of grey, black, copper, red, or light brown. Most of them are veined like marble, which earns them the name “marmorated” stink bugs. These markings are unique to each species.

The bug also features alternating light-colored bands on its antennae and dark bands on the thin outer edges of its abdomen. Its legs are brown with pale white mottling or banding. Its nymphs are either dark brown or completely dark, with red integument among the sclerites.

However, the first instar nymphs don’t have white markings, but the second through fifth ones have black antennae with one white band. Nymphs have black legs with various degrees of white banding. Individual nymphs that are freshly molted are pale white with red colorations.

Female stink bugs lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves. They can lay up to 28 eggs per session. These eggs are light green when laid, but they progressively turn white over time. The glands that excrete defensive chemicals (foul smell) are on the underside of the bug’s thorax, between its first and second pair of legs.

During mating, male stink bugs release pheromones and vibrational signals to communicate with females. The females also release their own vibrational signals as a response to the stimulation by their male counterparts. They use these signals to locate and recognize each other.

Different species of stink bugs generate varying frequencies of vibrational signals with some male stink bugs producing longer signal frequencies than others. However, the difference in frequency isn’t too significant. A stink bug is a sucking insect that pierces the host plant with its proboscis to feed.

Unfortunately, this feeding process causes indented or necrotic sections on fruits, loss of seeds, stippling leaves, and spread of plant pathogens. A stink bug is an agricultural pest capable of causing widespread damage to vegetables crops and fruits. In Japan, this bug is considered to be one of the greatest threats to soybean and fruit crops.

In the USA, the stink bug feeds on a wide range of vegetables, fruits, and other host crops, including apples, cherries, pears, peaches, green beans, raspberries, and many others. Thankfully, scientists have discovered various pesticides to control the bug.

Are Stink Bugs Dangerous?


Aside from destroying crops and causing low yields on farms, stink bugs can also become a real nuisance in the house. Although these bugs are predominantly found outdoors, harsh weather conditions push them to find shelter in homes, offices, and other structures. Towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall, when the weather becomes colder, stink bugs start looking for warmer spaces to hide.

So, they’ll come indoors and wreak havoc on your family. They’ll hibernate all through the winter season and reemerge from their hibernating sites in early spring and resume their active lifestyle. In warm months, you’ll find stink buds all together on the sides of buildings and on farms searching for food.

Although these bugs aren’t known to bite or sting, they produce chemicals that emit a very unpleasant odor, making your living space unlivable for a moment. They produce these chemicals as a defense mechanism against predators and intruders. So, they might give you a hard time when they get into your house, car, office, or any other sheltered structure and release a foul smell.

However, there are some species of stink bugs with predatory habits that’ll bite you when you come into contact with them. Even some plant-eating stink bugs can also bite you if you handle them. But these are rare occurrences.

Even when they bite, their bites aren’t poisonous. You’ll only feel the sting when they perforate your skin. In rare instances, the bite might cause a burning sensation, especially if the liquid defense chemicals they produce get under your skin.

These chemicals can also cause allergic reactions, especially if you have highly sensitive skin. For instance, the brown marmorated stink bug species, which is highly invasive, is known to provoke a severe allergic reaction.

The foul smell emitted by these bugs is considered to be an aeroallergen, which can cause conjunctivitis or rhinitis. That’s why you should handle the bugs with care. However, you shouldn’t mistake a stink bug for an assassin bug, which is commonly misidentified as a stink bug.

The assassin bug is a garden insect with predatory tendencies towards other insects. This bug can easily bite you if you pick it up or handle it. Its bite is extremely painful and can cause the bite area to swell.

But this bite too doesn’t require medical attention, unless it causes a severe allergic reaction. So, before you accuse a stink bug of biting you, do a proper identification.

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