You’re likely familiar with that annoying smack as a sting bug crashes into a wall or other surface.
But what do stinkbugs eat to make them pop up in your home or garden so unceremoniously?
Let’s take a moment co check out their diet and how you can take advantage of this knowledge.
What Do Stink Bugs Eat?
All species of stink bugs prefer plants, although some will extend their diets to include other bugs.
These agricultural pests can seriously damage a wide range of commercial and food crops.
When it comes to your yard or garden, they’ll go after a variety of plants including ornamentals.
After exiting diapause in the spring, an adult female will lay her eggs, often on host plants.
After hatching, the nymphs will go through five instars (AKA nymphal stages) before reaching adulthood, feeding on the same host plants as the adults.
This is when stink bug season is in full swing and various types of stink bugs can go from a mere nuisance pest to being a major pest.
Read Also: What Do Earwigs Eat?
Common Host Ornamental and Agricultural Crops
Here’s just a sample of the plants stinkbug nymphs and adults will attack:
- Beans (especially soybeans)
- Berries (from grapes to tomatoes)
- Field crops (such as sorghum)
- Grains (such as wheat and rice)
- Maple Trees
- Nuts (such as pecans)
- Ornamental plants (mimosa, eastern rosebud, etc.)
- Stone fruits (apricots, peaches, etc.)
- Tree fruits (apples, figs, pears, etc.)
As these are piercing insects, the potential damage from a stink bug infestation can range from a few discolored markings to severe damage or even death in severely drained host plants.
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Diet Matters (a LOT)
The majority of stinkbugs are considered pests, but some are actually beneficial.
Let’s take a moment to compare two nearly identical-looking species with very different diets.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys)
Accidentally introduced to North America in the 1990s, these invasive stink bugs have heavily infested 38 states, most notably in the Mid-Atlantic region.
They feed on the leaves and fruits of many plants, leaving them pitted, scarred, or worse.
Corn and pod beans are often pierced and drained, leaving the outside looking untouched but the kernals or beans shrivelled. and useless.
These pests can also render fruit unmarketable, although they’re not known to be disease vectors.
Chances are, you’ve seen these pests already.
They have a single white band on their hind legs, and on each antenna, as well as a blunt head and smooth shoulders.
Rough Stink Bug (Brochymena sulcata)
Nearly identical to the brown marmorated stink bug in appearance, it’s important to play spot-the-difference.
These critters have two white bands on their hind legs with no antenna markings, pointy bits on the front of their heads, and rough shoulders.
Why is it important to know this? Because unlike the majority of stink bugs, these guys are beneficial predators.
Their diet includes beetle larvae (especially the leaf beetle), caterpillars, sawflies, and other pests.
As long as it’s slow enough and has a soft body to pierce, it’s viable prey.
Of course, the rough stink bug also feeds on plants, but it’s not known to cause significant damage (and actually helps protect the crops it feeds upon).
See Also: What Do Baby Spiders Eat?
What do Stink Bugs Eat in the Home?
While they prefer the Great Outdoors, some species (especially the marmorated stinkbug) will wander indoors.
This can by accidentally entering an open door or window, or intentionally making use of entry points in search of a warm place to hunker down for the winter.
Once inside, they’ll generally try to snack on your ornamental plants or any food scraps you have laying around.
The good news is that a wide variety of spiders will actively hunt any stinkbugs that get into your home.
Cats will also play with them, although they usually will only eat a stinkbug once.
You’ll know if they do because their breath will be carrying that unpleasant odor that gives stinkbugs their name.