What Do Stink Bugs Eat?

Bill Swank
Last updated: February 27, 2024

You’ve no doubt encountered the infamous stink bug, an insect known not only for its notorious odor but for its not-so-fussy eating habits. But do you know precisely what these bugs feed on?

The answer isn’t as simple as you might think because stink bugs come with a surprisingly varied menu. Knowing the consumptive habits of these pesky insects can be advantageous for managing or preventing an infestation. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of stink bug diets and the impact it can have on your environment.

KEY
POINTS
  • Stink bugs have a broad diet consisting of a variety of plants including fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and ornamental plants. Predatory stink bugs help manage other pest populations by feeding on their eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults.
  • Newly hatched stink bugs typically start off by feeding on weeds and grasses and as they mature, their diet expands to include tougher plant tissues including fruits, buds, leaves, and stems.
  • Stink bug infestations can cause significant damage to crops and ornamental plants in agricultural settings, homes, and gardens. They use their piercing sucking mouthparts to drain sap from plants, causing discoloration, deformation, and stippling.
  • Different species of stink bugs have distinct dietary preferences, with Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs enjoying fruits, vegetables, and nuts while Green Stink Bugs are also known to be opportunistic predators, feeding on other insects and their larvae when plant food is scarce.
  • Predatory stink bugs can be beneficial to gardens and farms by helping to control the population of harmful insects, and are considered a natural form of pest control. On the downside, stink bugs can wreak havoc on crops, making them a problematic pest in agricultural settings.

Table of Contents

The Feeding Nature of Stink Bugs

What Is the Importance of Understanding the Diet of Stink Bugs?

Understanding the diet of stink bugs is essential for a number of reasons. It can help you pinpoint what is attracting them to your property, enabling you to make the appropriate amendments. Additionally, knowing their diet can assist you in implementing suitable pest control methods as the types of food they eat often dictate their behavior, breeding habits, and habitats. This knowledge, therefore, serves as the basis for not only identifying them but also controlling and preventing them.

Are Stink Bugs Prevalent in Colorado?

Yes, stink bugs have become increasingly prevalent in Colorado, particularly the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). This is largely due to Colorado’s range of crops and vegetation that align with the stink bug’s diet. Moreover, Colorado’s climate is favorable for the bugs’ reproduction and survival making it an ideal habitat.

Are All Stink Bugs Plant-Feeders?

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug feeding on Apple

Most types of stink bugs are herbivorous, feeding on a wide variety of plants from crops to fruit. They start their lifecycle by gnawing on grasses and weeds before transitioning to other forms of plant material as they reach adulthood. However, some species stray from the plant-only diet, preying on other insects. These predatory stink bugs are beneficial to gardeners and farmers as they act as natural pest control to other insect species that harm crops.

What Is the General Diet of Stink Bugs?

What Do Herbivore Stink Bugs Eat?

Herbivorous stink bugs aren’t picky when it comes to their food selection. They enjoy a broad range of foods including:

  • Grass
  • Weeds
  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Flowers
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts

They reach their peak of destruction when they munch away on farmers’ lush crops, vineyards, and orchards. Around our homes, you’ll often find stink bugs dining on ornamental plants and any leftover produce or fruits.

What Do Predatory Stink Bugs Eat?

When it comes to predatory stink bugs, their menu mainly consists of other insects’ eggs, larvae, and nymphs. And their voracious appetite doesn’t stop at just the young ones. They feed on adult pests too, aiding in population control of harmful insect species.

Do Stink Bugs Drink Water?

Just like other insects, stink bugs also need to hydrate. They get the majority of their water from the juicy sap and nectar of plants. That said, they can also drink water from puddles, rain drops, or dew.

What Do Stink Bugs Drink?

Stink bugs drink sap and nectar from plants. This not only quenches their thirst but also gives them the nourishment they need to survive. In addition to water, sap contains sugars that provide essential energy, along with vitamins and minerals.

Do Stink Bugs Eat Wood?

No, stink bugs do not eat wood. They may be pegged as destructive pests due to their plant-based diet, but they do not gnaw on wood or any other hard materials like termites or carpenter ants do. If you find wood damage around your home, it’s more likely to be caused by one of these other pests.

What Do Stink Bugs Eat Specifically?

What Types of Plants Are Most Commonly Consumed by Herbivore Stink Bugs?

Herbivorous stink bugs are quite diverse in their plant choices. They feed on a variety of crops including:

  • Fruits: apples, peaches, cherries, berries, tomatoes, fig 
  • Vegetables: corn, beans, potatoes, eggplants, broccoli, cabbage 
  • Grains: wheat, corn, and rice 
  • Nuts: pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts 
  • Ornamental plants: sunflowers, marigolds, and roses 
  • Weeds: dandelions, clover

In addition to these, they also love munching on tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, strawberries, citrus fruits, and soybeans. This broad menu is part of the reason why stink bugs can cause so much destruction on farms and gardens.

What Kinds of Insects Do Predatory Stink Bugs Prey Upon?

Predatory stink bugs are quite the hunters, preferring to dine on the eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults of a broad array of insect pests, including:

  • Aphids
  • Caterpillars
  • Colorado beetles
  • Leafhoppers
  • Spider mites
  • Whiteflies
  • Mealybugs
  • Scales
  • Thrips
  • Armyworms
  • Boll weevils

Because these insects are pests to farmers and gardeners, predatory stink bugs can be beneficial by helping control these destructive populations.

What Do Stink Bugs Like to Eat the Most?

While the preference varies between species, most stink bugs are drawn to fruits. Apples, peaches, citrus fruits, and tomatoes are particularly tasty to them. That said, stink bugs are opportunistic feeders, which means if their favorite foods are not available, they will not hesitate to snack on what’s at hand.

How Does the Diet of Stink Bugs Vary by Lifecycle?

What Do Newly Hatched Stink Bugs Typically Eat?

Newly hatched stink bugs, or nymphs, generally start off by munching on softer materials, such as weeds and grasses. They have softer mouthparts which harden as they grow older. As such, their diet slowly evolves to accommodate more fibrous plant matter.

How Does the Diet Evolve as Stink Bugs Mature?

As stink bugs mature from nymphs into adults, their feeding habits shift. They start to expand their diet, taking in a greater variety of foods including fruits, buds, leaves, and plant stems. Adult stink bugs can cause the greatest damage to crops as their mature mouthparts allow them to eat harder and tougher plant tissues.

How Do Stink Bugs Consume Their Food?

How Do Stink Bugs Eat?

Whether it’s a leafy green or another bug, stink bugs consume their food in a distinct manner. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts, much like a straw, which they use to pierce their food source and suck out the juices. For herbivores, these juices include plant sap, while predatory stink bugs will drain the fluids from other insects.

How Often Do Stink Bugs Eat?

Stink bugs eat daily, often having multiple meals throughout the day based on the availability of food. The frequency of feeding can increase during the warmer months when stink bugs are more active and require additional energy.

Do Stink Bugs Poop?

Yes, stink bugs do poop. In fact, their feces or droppings can be a sign that you have an infestation problem. The droppings appear as small, dark spots and are often seen on the plants or near the areas they are feeding.

Do Stink Bugs Pee?

Like other insects, stink bugs don’t pee in the traditional sense. They excrete waste in the form of uric acid, which is a dry substance, along with their feces. This efficient method of waste removal helps them conserve water.

Are There Differences in Diet Among Different Species of Stink Bugs?

What Do Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs Eat?

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is a notorious feeder on a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and ornamental plants. Apples, peaches, tomatoes, green beans, soybeans, and cherries are just a few of its preferred meals.

What Do Green Stink Bugs Eat?

While Green stink bugs do eat a variety of plants, they also have a tendency to be predatory especially when plant food is scarce, preying on insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied pests.

What Do Stink Beetles Eat?

Stink beetles, not to be confused with stink bugs, typically feed on organic matter, decomposing vegetation, and other insects. Some are also known to be scavengers, feeding on animal carcasses.

Do Different Species of Stink Bugs Prefer Different Plants or Prey?

Yes, different stink bug species do have their own preferred food sources. For example, the Southern Green Stink Bug particularly enjoys tomatoes, while the BMSB has a broader palette that includes numerous fruits, vegetables, and nuts. This can make managing multiple species of stink bugs challenging as each may need different control strategies.

What Do Stink Bugs Eat in Various Environments?

What Do Stink Bugs Eat in Agricultural Settings?

Inn agricultural environments, stink bugs can wreak havoc by feeding on a variety of crops including soybeans, corn, cotton, apples, peaches, tomatoes, and many more. They tend to focus on the fruiting bodies of these plants, leaving behind damaged and unsellable produce.

What Do Stink Bugs Eat Around Homes and Gardens?

Around homes and in gardens, stink bugs have a preference for fruits and vegetables as well as ornamental plants. They also won’t shy away from nipping on flowering plants, creating an unattractive appearance.

What Do Stink Bugs Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, stink bugs feed on a variety of wild plants and insects. They aren’t particularly picky and will make a meal out of any plant or suitable insect they encounter.

How Do Predatory Stink Bugs Benefit Gardens and Farms?

Predatory stink bugs are a boon to gardens and farms. By feeding on destructive insect pests, they naturally help to control and limit the populations of these pests. This makes them a valuable ally to gardeners and farmers alike.

Can Stink Bugs Be Predators or Prey?

Do Stink Bugs Eat Other Bugs?

Predatory stink bugs do eat other bugs. They use their piercing mouthparts to drain the life-sustaining fluids out of their prey, effectively controlling their populations.

Do Stink Bugs Eat Spiders?

While stink bugs typically prey on smaller insects and their larvae, they don’t usually eat spiders, which are often larger and more powerful than them.

Do Stink Bugs Eat Ants?

Stink bugs are not typically known to eat ants. They prefer easier targets like sedentary larvae and smaller insects.

Do Stink Bugs Eat Cockroaches?

Stink bugs do not eat cockroaches. They prefer smaller, less aggressive insects that they can easily overpower.

Do Stink Bugs Eat Ladybugs?

Stink bugs are not known to eat ladybugs. Stink bugs typically target plant matter or smaller insects, especially insect eggs and larvae.

What Are the Natural Predators of Stink Bugs?

Stink bugs are preyed upon by birds, spiders, assassin bugs, and parasitic wasps in their natural habitat. These predators help control the population of stink bugs.

Do Ladybugs Eat Stink Bugs?

No, ladybugs do not eat stink bugs. Most species of ladybugs only eat aphids, scale bugs, mites, fruit flies, mealybugs, and other pests that attack plants.

What Are the Consequences and Signs of Stink Bug Feeding?

What Do Stink Bugs Eat In Your House?

Inside your house, stink bugs could feed on any indoor plants or fruit left out on the counter. However, their indoor presence is often for seeking shelter rather than food, especially during the colder months.

What Type of Damage Can Stink Bugs Cause to Plants?

Stink bugs cause damage to plants by piercing the plant tissue and sucking out the sap. This can cause discoloration, deformation, and stippling on the plant or the fruit. It can also cause seeds or fruits to shrivel and become discolored or bitter tasting.

How Can You Tell if Stink Bugs Have Eaten Your Plants?

Signs of stink bug damage include:

  • Small, cloudy spots or pinprick holes on plant leaves, stems, or fruit. 
  • Dark, bitter-tasting spots inside nuts and seeds.
  • Shriveled or deformed seeds or fruits.

If you notice these signs, it’s crucial to initiate pest control measures.

Are There Any Human Interactions With Stink Bug Diet?

Do People Eat Stink Bugs?

Believe it or not, some cultures do eat stink bugs! Mostly found in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, stink bugs are collected, cooked, and consumed. They’re considered a good source of protein.

Can You Eat a Stink Bug?

While the idea of eating a stink bug may seem off-putting, yes, you could technically eat a stink bug. However, they let off a foul-smelling odor and taste when disturbed, hence their name. Before eating, they are typically soaked in water to remove the chemicals that cause this smell and taste.

How to Control Stink Bugs

Managing a stink bug infestation is crucial for those wanting to maintain a pleasant and sanitary living environment. There are several methods to control stink bugs effectively. One common method is by using insecticidal soap which can be sprayed directly onto the bugs or the areas they frequent. It’s also advisable to seal off any cracks and openings in your home to prevent these pests from entering in the first place. Maintaining a tidy garden by removing weeds and debris can also deter stink bugs from making your home their feeding ground.

Conclusion

Whether they’re sapping your plants, hurting your agricultural yield, or serving as a means of pest control, what stink bugs eat can have a significant impact on your home and environment. Understanding their diet is the first step towards effective stink bug management- a crucial step given their pervasive presence. So the next time you come across these infamous insects, remember that knowledge is your superpower in turning a pest problem around!

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