Stink Bug Statistics: What You Don’t Know

Written by Kristina Walsh
Published: October 30, 2023
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Halyomorpha halys, the stink bug, is considered a “pest” in the United States. Oxford Languages describes a pest as an insect that destroys crops, livestock, and agriculture. In a second definition of the word, they explain it as something annoying or a nuisance. Indeed, I can agree with this, but I also do not know why. Interestingly, I wouldn’t say I like the stink bug, but I know nothing about it. Ask yourself where they tend to nest, what they do, and how they bite. It has come to my attention that I truly know nothing of the species. What are Stink Bug Statistics: What You Don’t Know. I taught myself. Here is what I have found.

Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) insect animal

A stink bug looking for somewhere warm to nest.

©Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock.com

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Where Did the Stink Bug Start?

Originating in Asia, the Stink Bug did not go to the United States until the late 1990s.

Pest World says,

Their native range includes China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. They are also referred to as the yellow-brown or East Asian stink bug.

Where Are They Found?

First found in a town in Pennsylvania in 1996, they did not become famous until 2001, when they had migrated all the way to New Jersey. In 2004, after being found in Virginia, they were considered an “invasive” species in the United States. Eventually, Halyomorpha halys has been found inhabiting the lands of The District of Columbia and 44 out of 50 of the States in the United States.

What Is a Stink Bug?

They are shaped like a shield, with six legs and wings. A stink bug is a herbivore. They are only eating plants and vegetation. The mouth of a stink bug is known to be pierce-sucking, which means they pierce the plant and then suck up its juices.

Known to get about 2cm big, the stink bug is said to be a great pilot. Adult stink bugs are the only form of this species that can fly. A baby stink bug is permanently grounded. So, if it is flying, it’s old enough to have a license.

Most importantly, what I am sure you are waiting to read about is that the stink gland is found located on the belly of this bug. When frightened, injured, or even killed, the stink bug will release a foul odor from this gland.

It has been said to smell mostly of cilantro mixed with a few other spices. I am not sure if stink would be the correct word to use. To the human nose, it would be more strong and spicy. To another animal, though, that smell would be putrid. I keep thinking of my dog and how his smelly senses are triple the times of mine. A stink bug gas-ing would make him run for the hills!

A brown marmorated stink bug insect (

Halyomorpha halys

).

©Light Capturing/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Giving Up the Gas

Not only do stink bugs release a gas when they are in danger, but they also release a gas when they want to attract other stinky stompers. That’s right, they call their friends! When a stink bug has found a place to “call home,” it will release a gas, coating the area in it. That way, they attract other stink bugs to their location! It is like the official Bat Symbol, except it is not done by a flashlight towards the sky.

The National Pesticide Information Center has a great article discussing stink bugs and everything you want to know. In this article, they speak of this attraction chemical, saying,

When a Stink Bug finds as suitable winter shelter, it secretes a chemical odor that attracts other stink bugs.

Where Do They Nest?

Early in the fall, stink bugs will seek a place to settle down over the winter. They are looking for somewhere to stay warm and out of the way. This is when homeowners will find them in the doorways and window sills. They are found in the entryways of the home.

Once inside, they can be found anywhere. They like to sun themselves so during the day you can find them located by a window or somewhere where there is a sunspot! You will often see them on the outside walls of your home, searching for an entrance towards the heat.

When outside, you will find stink bugs living in the vegetation. Think large leaf piles and any yard waste. This is why keeping your yard clean is essential: raking up wet piles of leaves and removing any trash or outdoor debris you find lying around.

Female stink bugs lay 30-40 eggs twice a year. Besides being small, these eggs are yellow to green in color. Underneath leaves is where the female stink bug goes to lay her eggs. This is an example of the importance of cleaning your yard waste.

Do They Bite?

No, stink bugs do not bite. Their mouth area is not built to be able to bite. They have a “piercing-sucking” mouth. Which means they are NOT ABLE to bite. There is a long tube that provides sucking. Running out of the tube is a long needle-like structure. This is what they use to pierce with. So a stink bug will pierce a plant and then use the tube to suck up the contents out of the inside.

There are no teeth and no mouth. Not like what you are, I have. Their mouth is almost like a beak but a tube instead.

There is no need to worry. They cannot harm you. They can make you uncomfortable with their smell- although that is the limitation of their strength.

Our article Are Stink Bugs Poisonous Or Dangerous has a few other insights into the negative aspects of a stink bug.

Why Are They Such a Pest?

Since we know they cannot bite or harm you, and they do not destroy your home when they are in it. What is it about stink bugs that are so bad? Is it just me struggling to find the negative? At this point, they are just a lightening bug with bad B.O.

When it comes to being caught in your house, you are right. There is no actual harm. Grab some Febreeze, and you can fix any damage they have done. Yet, to a farmer. They are considered TROUBLE!

Known for their eating of plants, you are in for a nightmare if you are a farmer with a stink bug infestation. Stink bugs get into the crops of farmers and terrorize their yield. A stink bug can live up to 8 months old, that is, through spring and summer! I can only imagine the damage that one stink bug can do. What about a large group of them?

Macro image in natural light of isolated specimen of Brown marmorated stink bug, scientific name Halyomorpha halys, photographed on a green leaf with natural background.

A stink bug is sucking up some of the nutrients in this leaf.

©Davide Bonora/Shutterstock.com

What Does Damage From a Stink Bug Look Like?

Stink bugs are herbivores, meaning they eat vegetation and, of course, fruits and veggies. When stink bugs harm fruits and veggies, they show signs of pitting and scarring. Also, feeding on the leafy parts creates imperfections in the leaf.

When it comes to attacking the crop, stink bugs get into the physical part of the plant. Therefore, you might not notice any imperfections upon a quick physical harvest inspection. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has some great examples of what damage stink bugs can cause out in the fields of farmers.

 One visual symptom of brown marmorated stink bug feeding in soybeans is referred to as the “stay green” effect, where injured soybean plants stay green later into the season while other plants in the field senesce as usual. 

There is also this terminology called the “edge effect” which is where stink bugs will infest around the edges of a farmers field. Roughly 30-40 feet in from the edge will be infested with stink bugs.

Can You Handle Them?

If you find them around your house but not in large quantities, you are just looking for an easy removal process. Several sources spoke of using a vacuum to suck them up. Then, you can release them outdoors afterward. Otherwise, you can utilize a broom and dustpan to do the same.

Due to their scent gland and the horrible smell after their content is released. You do not want to do anything that will cause them to express their gas—procuring the littlest interaction possible between you and the tiny terror.

If you are brave and do not fear, you can always pick them up and move them by hand since they are not a species that bites or can bite.

Since they release a gas to call in their other counterparts, it is invisible to people like you and me. How are you supposed to counteract the species? You cannot fight what you cannot see.

Pest Control. Most people with stink bug problems equivalent to an “infestation” have to call an exterminator.

When stick bugs begin to infest.

©Matthias Matscher/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Stink Bug Statistics

The stink bug is not a species to fear or be threatened. Yes, they can stink, but they are harmless to humans beyond that realm.

Some other things I learned were:

  • Killing a stink bug does not attract other stink bugs.
  • Using indoor pesticides will not kill them.
  • Businesses that ship products overseas have to fumigate their product if they are located where stink bugs reside before shipping their product- this is super costly.
  • In a lifetime, a female stink bug can lay up to 400 eggs.
  • Using movements of their stomach to create vibrations, they communicate with other stink bugs.

Other Stinky Specimens

Skunk

As we all know, the skunk is another animal that releases a gas from its tail end to ward off predators. If you want some great facts about the skunk, click here.

Bombardier Beetle

Like the stink bug, the bombardier beetle releases a stinky toxin from its abdomen to keep itself safe. The main difference between the beetle and the stink bug is the beetle can spray the gas out of its abdomen, whereas the stink bug cannot.

Wolverine

The wolverine has a terrible odor that it carries. Stinky spaces of a wolverine are found in their anal glands. Wolverines use this toxin to protect their food and their territory. The wolverine, a smelly creature, is often called a “skunk bear.”

After diving into the world of stink bugs, trying to create Stink Bug Statistics: What You Don’t Know. I soon realized from all the research that there was way more to this insect than I knew. It is not just a bug you see crawling outside. It is a living creature that can shut down any agricultural setting with nothing more than a scent! That is one powerful bug!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Wirestock/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images


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About the Author

-RandomlyWriting- Has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Relations and lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband and four children. They are a family that believes in rescue- having adopted 2 dogs and 2 cats. They are also home to a baby Bearded Dragon!

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