Are Stink Bugs Poisonous or Dangerous?

Written by Taiwo Victor
Published: February 16, 2022
Image Credit Vinicius R. Souza/Shutterstock.com
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Stink bugs got their name for a reason –they stink. Well, stink bugs do not stink all the time, but they release a foul-smelling odor when threatened to ward off predators. But are stink bugs poisonous or dangerous? Stink bugs are generally harmless to humans. They are not known to be aggressive, and they will often stay away and avoid human interaction. However, when they feel cornered or hurt, they will defensively secrete an odorous compound that can trigger some allergic reactions to humans and other symptoms like sneezing or teary eyes. Stink bugs do not bite even when handled. Yet, they should not be ingested or crushed as they will emit this very foul substance that can cause some symptoms. When stink bugs are crushed on the hand or other parts of the body, their unpleasant liquid can cause mild symptoms or allergic reactions. 

Do Stink Bugs Bite?

What Do Stink Bugs Eat - Stink Bug Eating
Stink bugs do not bite.

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It is not common for stink bugs to bite humans, even when handled. The mouth of a stink bug is not structured to pierce or bite human skin, unlike other insects. They also do not have pincers that can drive them to sting people. Stink bites have nothing else that can pose a threat to humans apart from their odoriferous secretion that can trigger some allergic reactions and other mild symptoms. 

Most stink bug species are herbivores, eating mainly plant materials by sucking juices from the leaves, roots, and stems of vegetation. Stink bugs have mouths designed to pierce the plants and extract juices. However, these mouths are not strong enough to bite and puncture human skin. Despite the lack of teeth, stingers, or pincers, they have a defense mechanism to ward off predators, even humans. Stink bugs give off a stinky smell through a liquid substance they secrete whenever threatened or crushed. It is also not advisable for people to swat stink bugs on their skin as these bugs can emit liquid substances that may cause some symptoms, such as skin irritation or mild dermatitis. Fortunately, stink bugs are not aggressive and will not release their powerful odor as an attack.

Are Stink Bugs Dangerous to Humans?

What Do Stink Bugs Eat - Stink Bug with Larvae
Stink bugs are generally harmless to humans.

Vinicius R. Souza/Shutterstock.com

Stink bugs are among the least dangerous insects to humans. They do not bite, sting, or pierce human skin, and they are not aggressive, which means they do not attack humans or spread diseases. Although stink bugs are not harmful, they are still not suitable as pets. These bugs often settle in their natural habitat, and while they do not initiate attacks on humans, they can still be a nuisance to homes and vegetation. They can infest homes during springtime, leading to more accidental crushing. Smashing or crushing them can cause stink bugs to secrete a foul-smelling substance that can cause some irritations, allergies, or other mild symptoms when put in direct contact with human skin.

Unlike mosquitos and bed bugs that feed on human blood and spread diseases among humans, stink bugs do not bite or sting. Their mouth structure may be categorized along with biting flies and bed bugs as they are equipped with piercing or sucking mouths, but human blood does not attract them. Therefore, stink bugs do not spread human diseases. Yet, they use their unique defense mechanism to fend off predators in the wild. When threatened, provoked, or crushed, stink bugs release a very unpleasant odor that can stay in the air for a while. These smelly substances are not harmful to humans, but they can trigger some allergic reactions or skin irritations when sprayed directly on the skin. 

On some rare occasions, stink bug allergies can cause dermatological symptoms, especially when the person who directly contacted the stink bug secretion is highly allergic to the substance. Symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, uncontrollable teary eyes, and dermatitis can occur during these rare instances. The best way to avoid developing skin allergies and other symptoms is to promptly wash your hands with soap and water to remove the foul odor and the substance itself.

Are Stink Bugs Poisonous?

What Do Stink Bugs Eat - Baby Stink Bug
Though stink bugs secrete foul-smelling substances, they are not poisonous.

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Since they do not have venom or poison that can induce harm, stink bugs are not poisonous. Although they occasionally secrete foul-smelling substances, this liquid emission is not toxic or harmful and can only cause skin irritations or allergies in worst-case scenarios. Stink bugs are not edible because they give off an unpleasant odor and taste when crushed. Eating them can’t be poisonous either. But when ingested, their liquid emission can cause symptoms such as an upset stomach, mouth irritation, and temporary vomiting. 

Stink bugs secrete their stinky liquid through the pores situated on their abdomens. They primarily secrete this liquid when disturbed, threatened, or crushed, but they also use this distinct smell to attract other stink bugs during mating season. Stink bugs can be a nuisance, especially when they come into your house uninvited and in large groups. Apart from their stinky smell, they affect crops too. They suck the moisture from soybeans or corn kernels and fruits like figs, citrus, apples, peaches, and blackberries.

Are Stink Bugs Poisonous to Dogs?

Stink bugs are generally harmless to dogs because they can’t bite or sting them. However, when your dog eats the stink bug thinking it is a delicious snack, it can cause mouth irritation and vomiting or diarrhea. Yet, stink bites should not be a significant concern as the substance they emit is non-poisonous. Although not toxic to dogs and other pets like cats, it is vital to give your dog prompt medical attention to relieve its upset stomach. You can also immediately wash your dog’s mouth after they eat a stink bug to remove the solid foul taste that may last in their taste buds for a while.

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