Home Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats


Stink Bugs (Family Pentatomidae, Superfamily Pentatomoidea, Infraorder Pentatomomorpha, Suborder Heteroptera, Order Hemiptera)

Stink Bugs, a subset of true bugs, are named for the odor that they produce when attacked, and adults are easily recognized by their general shape and by their large, triangular "scutella."   Identification of the different species is another matter, especially for immature bugs.  The nymphs of each species go through a series of instars, stages of development demarcated by molting and usually characterized by striking changes in color and pattern; wings develop through these stages and become functional in the adult.  To add to the confusion, adults of the same species sometimes come in different colors, and not all of these differences are explained by region.

Proper identification of stink bugs is important, since  this family constitutes both some of the most beneficial and harmful insects to humans: some help farmers by eating pests, while others are crop pests themselves.   The nymphs represent a special challenge since instars vary widely in appearance.  Even in adults, color, as the pictures below show, can vary within species.   This may vary according to nature and quality of diet.  However, all use a beak (much as spiders use their fangs) to inject digestive enzymes into their food sources and suck out the digested material, as is the case with all True Bugs (suborder Heteroptera).

All classifications follow standards set forth by the USDA's Integrated Taxonomic Information System.   Many entomologists, mainly outside America, assign the predaceous stink bugs to the Asopinae subfamily, although the ITIS does not give it this recognition. 

To see some Stink Bug predation (on Colorado Potato Beetle larvae) photos, see Mike Tetzlaff's page.

Stink Bugs (family Pentatomidae, superfamily Pentatomoidea, infraorder Pentatomomorpha)

Some stink bugs are predators (Aesopinae subfamily), while members of most species are herbivorous (Pentatominae subfamily).  The Spined Soldier Bug is an economically important predator; the Brown Stink Bug, the Green Stink Bug, the Southern Green Stink Bug and the Rice Stink Bug are all economically important crop pests.  This is not entirely related to sheer numbers: in Durham, NC, the Menecles insertus stink bug is by far the most common, but apparently gets along without eating crops.  Note the shoulder-like "pronotum" and the large triangular scutellum (the Latin word for "shield"), which characterize adults of this family. 

To see some Stink Bug predation (on Colorado Potato Beetle larvae) photos, see Mike Tetzlaff's page.

Florida Predatory Stink Bug (Euthyrhynchus floridanus), Aesopinae subfamily

Florida Predatory Stink Bug (Euthyrhynchus floridanus [Linnaeus, 1767]) nymph, Durham, NC, 6/10/09 Florida Predatory Stink Bug 5th instar nymphs (note the separate scutella and wing pads), Fort Fisher Recreational Area, New Hanover County, NC, 8/27/03.  Florida Predatory Stink Bug (Euthyrhynchus floridanus [Linnaeus, 1767]) adult, Durham, NC, 6/26/10          

Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris), Aesopinae subfamily

Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris) nymph.  Moses Cone Memorial Park, Watauga County, NC, 8/31/05.  ID done referring to the University of Kentucky Critter Files.  According to Featured Creatures website of University of Florida and the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, it's a fifth (and final) instar nymph. Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris [Say, 1832]) adult, Durham, 6/18/05.  This is an especially important predator.  Notice how the membranous parts of the wings overlap at the rear, just behind the triangle-shaped "scutellum" in the front.  According to Podisus Online, this bug has proved its effectiveness in controlling the Southern Green Stink Bug, as well as the Colorado Potato Beetle and several Noctuidae family moth caterpillars.        

Green Stink Bug (Chinavia hilaris), Nezarini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

NOTE: There seems to be some controversy about whether the Acrosternum hilare species is found in America (as well as in Europe), and therefore whether American Green Stink Bugs should be named Chinavia hilaris.

Green Stink Bug (Chinavia hilaris) nymph,  Little Scaly Mountain, Macon County, NC, 8/11/05.  Apparently an early instar, i.e., stage of development in the immature insect, demarcated by a molt. Green Stink Bug (Chinavia hilaris) nymph, Boone, Watauga County, 8/31/05.  ID according to Iowa State University's Entomology Image Gallery website.  This is apparently an early instar (2nd or 3rd), but later than the one on the left.  Order a product with this picture on it at our online store. Green Stink Bug  (Chinavia hilaris)nymph, Daniel Boone Gardens, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/9/06.  One of the middle instars, apparently. Green Stink bug (Chinavia hilaris) nymph, appeared on San Antonio River bank.  San Antonio, Bexar County, TX, 5/28/10.  A later instar. Green Stink Bug  (Chinavia hilaris)nymph, Moses Cone Memorial Park, Watauga County, NC, 8/31/05.   ID according to the University of Kentucky Critter Files.  According to information at University of Missouri (at Columbia)Extension's stink bug (as soybean pest) page,  i.e., "pale, yellow-green color with black markings," this is probably a fourth or later instar.  

Southern Green Stink Bug (Nezara viridula), Nezarini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

Southern Green Stink Bug (Nezara viridula [Linnaeus, 1758]), Durham, 11/30/05. I retrieved this bug by raking leaves. 

Rough (or Tree) Stink Bugs (Brochymena genus, Halyini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena quadripustulata) nymph, Durham, NC, 8/25/09  Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena quadripustulata) is apparently the most common species), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 11/14/07.  Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena arborea), Durham, NC, 11/9/10 Stink bug (Brochymena carolinensis?), Durham, NC, 4/15/10  Rough Stink Bug nymph, Boone, NC, 8/4/08.  Seen in woods on Boone Green Way Trail.      

Pentatomini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus servus [Say, 1832]), Durham, 10/18/06.  This is a notorious soybean pest.  But since soybeans aren't grown anywhere around here, seeing one around here (in my neighborhood, in this case) is a rare treat. Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus servus [Say, 1832]), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/25/07 Brown Stink Bug, Durham, NC, 5/29/08 Stink bug (Euschistus ictericus), Durham, NC, 8/21/06.  Seen on cattail in my neighborhood swamp.  ID thanks to v belov. Stink bug (Menecles insertus [Say, 1832]), Durham, 2/9/06.   Thanks to Eric Eaton for ID.  These bugs are relatively common here in the Research Triangle area.  But their relative unimportance agriculturally has made them a very obscure species. Stink bug (Mormidea lugens [Fabricius, 1775), Duke Forest, Korstian Division, Orange County, NC, 6/11/06.  This little critter was about inch long.  ID based on BugGuide's Mormidea lugens page.            

Rice Stink Bug (Oebalus pugnax [Fabricius, 1775]), Durham, 6/27/09.  This bug attacks rice and sorghum, but lives as a nymph on wild grasses, including marsh vegetation, as shown here. Rice Stink Bug, Durham, NC, 4/25/08 Stink bug (Banasa calva [Stal, 1860]), Durham, 3/2/06, 9:28 pm.  ID based on Marshall (2006), p. 112. Stink Bug (Banasa dimiata), Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 7/22/09        

Rice Stink Bug nymph, with wing pads, dorsal view, Durham, NC, 7/18/09.  Seen in a marsh. Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus servus) nymph, Durham, NC, 6/11/09.  ID: Forestry Images image # 1242034 Stink bug (Menecles insertus) nymph, Durham, NC, 5/16/08          

Carpocorini tribe, Pentatominae subfamily

Stink bug (Cosmopepla lintneriana), McAfee's Knob, Roanoke, VA, 6/15/11          

Unidentified Stink Bug Nymphs

An early-instar true bug nymph is apparently attacking a treehopper (Telamona decorata).  I am guessing that this nymph is a stink bug.  Durham, NC, 5/6/09.            


  Copyright 2005-2010 Dorothy E. Pugh