A guide to stink bug identification

Stink bugs are found all over the United States and Canada. There are about 260 different species, some of which eat other insects, and others that damage crops and gardens. Because there are so many, it can be difficult to make a proper stink bug identification without the help of an entomologist. However, the following checklist goes over what do stink bugs look like and these stink bug pictures should help you out.

How big is the bug?

The adults of most stink bug species range from 0.5 of an inch to 0.67 of an inch long and up to 0.3 inches wide. Nymphs, which will undergo one to five instars, or molt stages, are smaller, but have the same stink bug shape.

Does it look like the insect has a shield on its back?

Stink bugs are sometimes referred to as "shield bugs" because the main part of their backs has a triangular-shaped plate called the scutellum, which looks like a tiny shield.

Is the bug a shade of green or brown?

The adults of most of the commonly found species of stink bugs range from a dull light green to darker shades of green or dusky shades of brown. The brown stink bug, which has a light green underbelly, is sometimes confused with the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), which is entirely brown with some white markings. However, some species of stink bugs are brightly colored – take, for example, the harlequin bug, which is orange and black.

Does it fly around?

Stink bugs, like most true bugs, can fly. Adult stink bugs have four wings – the top set of which are divided into a leathery top and membranous bottom. Certain species can fly between one to three miles a day.

Does it smell if disturbed or handled?

Stink bug images cannot help you with this identification fact. Most stink bug species will emit a sickly sweet or malodorous smell if they are bothered or handled. The smell comes from a liquid the insects emit from glands located underneath their abdomen. It is not poisonous, but may burn if it comes in contact with the skin or eyes. If you've handled a stink bug and are experiencing pain, call a medical professional.

Do you want to know more?

There are pictures of stink bugs readily available online and in books, but you may need an entomologist to determine exactly which type of stink bug you are encountering around your home. Some species of stink bugs are no bother at all, while others are considered a nuisance. Additionally, some of the stink bugs you may find on your plants are actually beneficial ­– predatory stink bugs prey on the eggs and adults of other garden pests.

Now that you know the basics of stink bug identification, you can take a look and see if any are hiding in your home or yard. If you find them and worry that they are not the beneficial type, call Terminix® for a free pest estimate.