It’s not surprising that you may wonder about what stink bugs eat, especially considering that bugs use a wide range of foods as their fuel. Some bugs might eat plants, while others might suck our blood, and others still might eat fellow insects and small animals.
This article will explain what stink bugs eat, as well as some other notable attributes about them.
What Do Stink Bugs Look Like?
What exactly a stink bug looks like is going to depend on the type you are dealing with. While their coloration varies, they do all have some similarities. Adult stink bugs often have triangular-shaped backs. It’s fairly distinct compared to other insects, which makes them stand out.
This shape results in them also being called “shield bugs.” They tend to be about three-quarters of an inch long, have six legs, and have two antennae on their heads. When looking at a stink bug, you might not notice that it is equipped with a sturdy pair of wings that make it quite a talented flier.
How Do Stink Bugs Get Into Your House?
Stink bugs get into your house the same way other insects get into your house. When they search for shelter, they will be attracted to your home. Then, they will search out any cracks in windows, doorways, or the foundation of your house. If there’s a tiny space for them to slip in through, they will.
Rather than getting rid of stink bugs already in your home, it’s much better to avoid them entering in the first place. Take a look at any weak spots in your house, and walk around the perimeter of your home from the inside and outside. If you see any visible cracks or slots, they are probably worth reinforcing.
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Not only will this prevent stink bugs from getting in, but you will also be avoiding a bunch of other bugs and possible infestations as well.
Stink bugs earn their smelly moniker due to the foul odor that they emit if they are threatened or crushed. To avoid this, many people prefer to avoid squishing them whenever possible. By mitigating the risk of these insects being in your home in the first place, you lessen the risk of having to deal with the smelly aftermath.
Are Stink Bugs Dangerous?
By and large, stink bugs are not dangerous. They are a nuisance around the house, but they don’t pose much of a threat to humans on an individual level. They don’t bite like mosquitoes or sting like bees, and they aren’t aggressive. The only way that they could harm a person is if they carry an allergen that someone is negatively affected by.
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What Do Different Species of Stink Bugs Eat?
At last, it’s time to explore the crux of this article. If you were looking for a simple answer about what stink bugs eat, we are sorry to disappoint:
The question of what stink bugs eat actually takes us to a larger topic surrounding the different species of stink bugs. Many of us are used to seeing only a few kinds of this insect, but in reality, there are over 200 species of stink bugs in North America alone.
These species of stink bugs have all sorts of defining characteristics that separate them from one another. They can differ slightly in size and can have very different colorations.
For instance, the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species in the US, has a pattern that makes it blend in especially well with trees. Meanwhile, the green stink bug is unsurprisingly a bright green hue that camouflages them among leaves.
Another fundamental way that some stink bugs are unique from others is their preferred diet. Two categories cover what stink bugs like to eat: First, there are herbivorous stink bugs. Then, there are predatory stink bugs.
Herbivorous Stink Bugs
Most stink bugs are herbivores, meaning they only feast on plants and plant material. You are much more likely to come into contact with this type of stink bug, rather than the other type, which we will explore more in a little bit.
When they are outside, stink bugs are likely to feed on natural materials such as grass, especially when they’re young. As they age, they are likely to travel further distances. This means they can traverse long spans to get to other outdoor settings or even find their way into our homes.
Adult stink bugs in an outside environment will make all sorts of crops their food. This is a disadvantage for several reasons. Unless they feed on an invasive species, they’re inevitably damaging the plant itself. This gets even worse if they find their way onto a farm, garden, or anywhere growing food for eventual human consumption.
When stink bugs eat a crop, not only are they hurting that individual plant, but they are also creating an opening for all sorts of other bugs to come in. They may be carriers of various diseases that affect or even kill plants. If the plant manages to survive all of this, it will likely continue to grow with sores resulting from the stink bug’s saliva.
Then, there’s the real possibility that stink bugs will make their way into our homes, especially as the weather gets colder. When stink bugs live in our homes, they aren’t likely to eat much of anything. Instead, their priority is just to find a warm place to spend the winter. If they do eat, it will likely be tasty produce that is left out for them to find.
Carnivorous or Predatory Stink Bugs
Although most varieties of stink bugs stick to only eating plants and plant matter, there are a few noteworthy species that take another path. Predatory stink bugs are those that, instead of eating natural materials, eat the bugs that eat the natural materials. In this way, some types of stink bugs might end up helping farmers and gardeners.
By preying on other bugs that eat plants, predatory stink bugs save a great number of plants. While some kinds of stink bugs are a dreaded sight by any farmer or gardener, others might be a welcome beacon of hope — especially if many bugs were eating their crops.
Carnivorous stink bugs eat a wide variety of other insects. Shockingly, they might even eat other stink bugs. Who would have thought that a little bug-on-bug cannibalism could be so helpful in terms of agriculture? It’s amazing!
Are There Any Benefits to Stink Bugs?
If a stink bug is of the herbivorous variety, it is challenging, if not impossible, to see any real benefits to them. Whether they are eating and ruining plants or just giving you the creepy crawlies in your own home, they don’t do much good.
Some types of stink bugs are invasive species, meaning that they have no natural predators in an area and are, therefore, able to multiply and spread largely unchecked. This can throw native species out of whack since there is such an influx of this unintended visitor.
The Verdict: Do Stink Bugs Stink?
How you feel about stink bugs is likely to depend on the type you’re exposed to. They can eat a wide range of materials, some of which are more harmful than others. No matter what, chances are that you don’t want to invite a bunch of stink bugs into your home anytime soon.