The name alone makes us want to avoid stink bugs. They got the name because they release a smelly odour when they're protecting themselves from other bugs or when you crush them. They are sometimes called "shield bugs" because of the shield shape of its wings. It's also a pest that resists most pesticides. In 2011, an entomologist told the "New York Times" that it was "the worst bug we've seen in 40 years."
People, as well as creatures like mice, lizards and birds, can intimidate the stink bug into releasing the foul-smell from special glands. Smell is a hard thing to describe since it is different for every person, but some people describe the odour as a sharp, fruity, bitter smell. Other people have said the scent is like sweaty feet, cilantro or a spicy vegetable odour. The smell is attractive to other stink bugs, who will follow it to find another place to live.
Stink bugs are triangle-shaped and about 3/4 inches long. They can be grey, brown, or dark green in colour. They have six legs, wings, and antennas.
Stink bugs feed on flowers, leaves, and crops. Stink bugs use their sucking and piercing mouth parts to suck juice from fruits. Some of their favourite crops are citrus fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, pears, plums, grapes and sunflowers. They also eat other bugs like caterpillars.
Stink bugs don't usually bite unless they feel that they are in danger. Stink bug bites can be painful and may produce swelling or a rash, but they are not harmful.
Because of the foods they like to eat, stink bugs live in orchards, farms and gardens. If you notice stink bugs in your personal garden, have your parents help you spray insecticides in that area. You can help keep the bugs away by keeping weeds around your garden cleared so more bugs don't try to live there. Stink bugs came to America from Asia in the 1990s. They were first seen in Pennsylvania. The bugs tend to attach themselves to vehicles, so they can quickly move to new locations. As of 2011, the bugs had populations in least 33 states, including the Pacific Coast states of Washington and California.
Stink bugs are not able to make heat to keep themselves warm. They must rely on warm weather to heat up. They will hibernate in cold seasons, usually on the side of something warm, like a building or an inside wall of a home.