Thousands of species of stink bugs exist throughout the world. These flying insects belong to the family Pentatomidae. Species such as the brown marmorated stink bug are commonly recognized as agricultural pests, while the others such as the Florida predatory stink bug are beneficial to farmers because they eat other plant-damaging insects.
Stink bugs attract potential mates in two ways. Both males and females rub their wings or legs against their bodies, which makes a noise to attract nearby stink bugs. This is similar to how crickets make a chirping noise by rubbing their wings together. Stink bugs also emit an odor to attract mates. This odor is a pheromone, which is not the same odor released to deter predators. Both male and female stink bugs release pheromones.
After mating, a female stink bug lays her first egg mass on a plant leaf. Egg masses commonly contain between 20 and 150 barrel-shaped eggs, which are laid in several organized rows. The number of eggs laid and the eggs' coloring depends on the species of stink bug. For example, the eggs of green stink bugs are cream-colored or yellow, while the eggs of brown marmorated stink bugs are white or pale green. Females lay several egg masses throughout the summer until September, so stink bugs are seen on host plants in various stages of life.
Eggs typically hatch into nymphs within five days. Nymphs are immature stink bugs. Although similar in appearance to adult stink bugs, nymphs are not yet fully developed. They are smaller than adults and have underdeveloped wings. As nymphs grow through five instars, or stages of nymph development, they must shed their exoskeletons to make room for their growing bodies. Wings are fully developed after the fifth and final shedding of the exoskeleton. This development usually occurs over one month's time, with each instar period lasting no more than one week.
Come Full Circle
All nymphs fully develop into adults before winter, usually in October, although this varies depending on their location. Adult stink bugs overwinter in ditches and alongside of roads, becoming active again in the spring when temperatures increase. They begin searching for a mate about two weeks after becoming active again. After finding a mate, females begin laying eggs in the summer and the cycle of life continues. The total time from hatched egg to adult is about five weeks. Two generations of stink bugs, such as the brown marmorated and southern green stink bug, are possible in southern locations that experience warmer temperatures.
- North Carolina State University: Stink Bugs and Leaffooted Bugs
- University of Florida: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
- Animal Planet: Stinkbug
- University of Florida: Green Stink Bug
- Rutgers University: General Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Information
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Field Guide to Stink Bugs
- The University of Georgia: Stink Bugs
- Washington State University: Control of Stink Bugs and Other Apple IPM Issues
- National Institute of Biology: Vibratory Songs of Hybrids from Brazilian and Slovenian Populations of the Green Stink Bug Nezara Viridula
- National Institute of Biology: Tremulatory and Abdomen Vibration Signals Enable Communication Through Air in the Stink Bug Euschistus Heros
Amanda Williams has been writing since 2009 on various writing websites and blogging since 2003. She enjoys writing about health, medicine, education and home and garden topics. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at East Stroudsburg University in May 2013. Williams is also a certified emergency medical technician.