Bug of the Month October 2010: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Odd bug on my Lantana Camara plant
Location:  Arlington, VA / Washington, DC
September 25, 2010 3:49 pm
My Lantana Camara plant has been getting some brown spots recently. I live in the Washington, DC / Arlington Virginia area, and purchased it at a local Home Depot. It has been doing very well for months for now.
Until the visitor.
I don’t know who he is. I’ve seen up to three of them at a top. They are a little bigger than my thumbnail, and can fly, although they usually crawl. Once I spied one nestled near some of the berries on top, perhaps sucking nectar from them.
I know just enough about gardening to know about good bugs and bad bugs. I’ve been flicking them away from my plant for a week now, assuming them to be of the devilish variety, but I wish to know more about my erstwhile foe. So, can you tell me what kind of bug this is?
Signature:  Clueless in Arlington

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

Dear Clueless,
We just provided you with a quick response, but we also had two additional requests for the identification of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug,
Halyomorpha halys, an introduced invasive exotic species that often enters homes when cold weather sets in.  Since it appears they may be multiplying in numbers, we suspect that come October, identification requests may increase, so we decided to feature the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug as the Bug of the Month for October 2010 and to use your letter and photos as the posting.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown marmorated stink bugs
September 25, 2010 12:47 pm
A friend of mine, knowing that I’m into entomophagy, has offered me a bunch of the brown marmorated stink bugs that are all over Maryland these days.  I know that the green ones are eaten, and relished, in Mexico; is  there any reason these brown ones wouldn’t be equally edible?
Signature: Beatrix Whitehall

Hi Beatrix,
We are forwarding you letter to our contributing expert in entomophagy, David Gracer, in the hopes he can provide a response before we post the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug as the bug of the month for October.  We will be adding your letter to that posting.

David Gracer agrees to investigate the Edibility of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
September 26, 2010
Hello Daniel and Beatrix,
This is part one of my response.  I don’t know of any documentation confirming this species as an edible, though yeah, the other Pentatomids considered delectable appear to be quite similar.  I might try one on speculation just to see what it was like on the palate, but I’d shy away from a meal of them and obviously cannot recommend to others as of yet.
I’m currently visiting Athens GA; UGA held their annual Insectival yesterday (at the gorgeous State Botanical Gardens).  I’ll be addressing the entomology department tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll share this anecdote and challenge the students to investigate the matter.  After all, with such great bounty heaped upon homeowners each fall, it would be useful to be able to make good use of them for a change.  Maybe something will turn up.

Thanks Dave,
We eagerly await your response.

Here’s part two: my mention of culinary possibilities of the BMSB prompted barely-perceptible changes of facial expressions during my visit.  I suspect that the extreme abundance of conventional food sources leads to a dearth of academic research into the identification of consumable insect species.  I remain interested in the idea, though, and I’d probably try this species if someone will send me some.

5 thoughts on “Bug of the Month October 2010: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug”

  1. Come across the river! Help yourself! We in the Maryland burbs of Washington DC have been inundated with them (indoors and out) for 2-3 years.

    In early October, we removed from the house (and stomped) about 50 a day.

  2. I’ve tried them. Not lots different from the green shield bugs. That was quite a while ago, and I’m still able to comment. I’ve not found documentation on their edibility, so I limit my intake.

  3. Thanks for sharing! We are inundated this year so I’ve been considering experimenting. The aldehydes that they emit are found in food. I found an article on what they eat and will comb through to see if there is any plant of concern there since potentially that could be in their gut.


Leave a Comment