Stink bugs are family Pentatomidae insects that, true to their naming, occasionally give off markedly unpleasant odors. Although their smells are unpleasant, they're beneficial to the bugs in that they keep lots of would-be predators at bay. They definitely don't stop all predation toward stink bugs, however.
The "Stink" in "Stink Bug"
Stink bugs give off substances that not only smell awful, they also taste awful. They release these substances out of pores situated on the edges of their physiques. The yucky smell and flavor often drive hungry predators away, nudging them to look elsewhere for their next meals. Stink bugs typically resort to giving off these substances when they're bothered by others. They often direct these smells toward people who pick them up or otherwise touch them -- their way of communicating "back off."
Stink bugs are "true bugs," otherwise known as part of the order Hemiptera. Their odoriferous defense mechanism isn't at all exclusive to them. A lot of their fellow order Hemiptera invertebrates also regularly practice the same icky mode of protection.
Assassin bugs (family Reduviidae) are predatory insects that frequently target stink bugs as their next meals. Surprisingly enough, stink bugs are insects that regularly dine on other stink bugs. Predatory species within the stink bug realm frequently go after their near kin. Stink bugs run the gamut in terms of feeding preferences. Many consume plant matter exclusively, while many others regularly feed on animals. Parasitoid wasps often look to stink bugs for sustenance, too. These wasps especially enjoy munching on brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys). Although arthropods such as spiders aren't actually insects, they're pretty common stink bug predators.
Stink bugs' predators go beyond just insects and arthropods. Birds often eat stink bugs. It isn't uncommon for birds to immediately eject stink bugs as soon as they get inside of their mouths, but at the same time, some tough birds can get through their disagreeable flavoring just fine.
Stink Bugs Also Are Predators
Many stink bugs eat plants and only plants. However, many of them are also predators in their own right, and what they eat isn't limited to other stink bugs, either. Arthropods can often count stink bugs among their predators, for example. The stink bug predation approach often involves employing their mouths to evacuate substances from their prey animals' bodies.
- University of Kentucky Entomology: Stink Bugs of Kentucky
- The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences: Stink Bugs
- University of Minnesota Department of Entomology: Stink Bugs
- Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station: General Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Information
- Missouri Department of Conservation: Stink Bugs
- Carroll County Times: Scientists Consider Asian Wasps to Control Stink Bugs
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