Brown marmorated stink bugs have become a common sight in recent years, particularly in some areas of the United States.
These insects, often found in gardens and agricultural fields, are notable for their distinctive odor when crushed or threatened, raising concerns for many about their potential to bite or harm humans.
Fortunately, brown marmorated stink bugs do not bite people or pets, nor do they transmit disease or cause physical harm.
Instead, they possess piercing-sucking mouthparts with a straw-like stylet for feeding on plant juices.
Some individuals may experience sensitivities to allergens emitted by stink bugs, but overall, these insects are not harmful to humans.
Understanding Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
History and Origin
It was accidentally introduced to the United States, with the first appearance in the Portland area in 2004.
- Scientific Name: Halyomorpha halys
- Adult size: 14-17mm (around the size of a U.S. dime)
- Shape: Shield-shaped with brown mottling
- Identifiable marks: Alternating broad light and dark bands on abdominal edges and last two antennal segments
Lifecycle and Reproduction
They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed on leaves, stems, fruits, pods, and seeds across a wide range of plants.
Brown marmorated stink bugs are known to feed on a wide range of plants, causing damage to various crops. Their feeding habits include:
- Piercing-sucking mouthparts: they use their straw-like stylet to suck plant juices
- Preference for reproductive structures: like fruits, pods, and seeds
Some of their common targets are:
- Fruits: apples and peaches
- Vegetables: tomatoes and soybeans
- Nuts: hazelnuts
- Grains: corn
- Ornamental plants
These stink bugs exhibit specific seasonal patterns that define their behavior:
- Spring: They emerge from hibernation and become active outdoors, feeding on plants and crops
- Winter: They seek shelter indoors, often in attics, for hibernation
Brown marmorated stink bugs are pests and can be a nuisance to humans.
During hibernation, they may enter homes to find warmth and shelter.
It is crucial to monitor their presence and take preventative measures to keep them from infesting your living spaces.
Do Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Bite or Sting?
Brown marmorated stink bugs are known for their unpleasant odor, but do they bite or sting? The answer is no.
These insects possess piercing-sucking mouthparts designed to extract plant juices.
Their mouthparts are straw-like stylets, not suited for biting human skin or drawing blood.
In fact, they rely on foul odors as a defense mechanism, rather than biting or stinging.
Both adult and juvenile stink bugs produce acrid scents to dissuade predators from targeting them.
Their approach proves quite effective – very few predators want to eat something that smells terrible.
So, while brown marmorated stink bugs emit an awful smell, they pose no direct harm to humans through biting or stinging.
Preventing and Controlling Stink Bug Infestations
Home Protection Measures
Brown marmorated stink bugs can enter homes through small gaps and openings. To prevent their entry, seal gaps around doors and windows using caulk.
Also, consider installing screens on vents and windows. Check walls and corners for cracks and seal them to prevent infestations.
Regularly vacuuming can help remove stink bugs from inside your house.
When vacuuming, use a vacuum cleaner with a bag to trap them and dispose of it outside to prevent the spread of the odor they release.
Outdoor Prevention Methods
Keep gardens clean and weed-free to reduce potential hiding spots for the stink bugs.
Additionally, maintain ornamental plants as they can serve as a habitat for pests. Removing debris and tall weeds can minimize their presence around your home.
Traps can also be used to monitor and control stink bug populations in the outdoor areas.
Commercial traps or homemade ones using soapy water can be effective in catching both adult and nymph stink bugs.
Natural Predators and Control Options
Introducing predatory insects like flies and predatory stink bugs can help control the population of brown marmorated stink bugs.
These predators feed on their eggs and nymphs, thus keeping the pests in check.
In some cases, insecticides may be necessary for severe infestations, especially for agricultural use.
Farmers dealing with brown marmorated stink bugs as an agricultural pest can use specific insecticides to protect their crops, such as apricots, Asian pears, and grapes.
|Home sealing||Prevents entry of stink bugs, energy-efficient||Time-consuming, may miss some gaps|
|Regular vacuuming||Easy to do, reduces the number of stink bugs in the house||Requires frequent disposal of vacuum bags, not 100% effective|
|Garden maintenance||Reduces hiding spots, enhances overall garden appearance||Can be labor-intensive, may not eliminate all stink bugs|
|Traps||Can be placed anywhere, effective in catching stink bugs||Needs regular maintenance, unsightly|
|Natural predators||Eco-friendly, reduces chemical insecticides usage||Takes time to establish, may not guarantee complete control|
|Insecticides||Effective in controlling severe infestations, protects crops||Chemical exposure risk, potential harm to the environment|
The brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species from East Asia, has become a significant concern for agriculture and homeowners alike.
While they don’t bite or sting humans, their feeding habits can damage crops and plants. Their tendency to seek shelter indoors during winter months can also make them a household nuisance.
Various control methods, from sealing homes to introducing natural predators, are employed to manage their populations. Understanding their behavior and impact is essential for effective control and coexistence.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Newly Hatched Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
The eggs hatched!
Location: Charlottesville, VA, US
July 22, 2010 1:42 pm
I’d thought they were butterfly eggs, but obviously not. What are these things, do you know? and will they hurt my basil and pepper plants?
These are newly hatched Harlequin Stink Bugs, Murgantia histrionica. We verified their identity by matching them to a photo on BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Sucks on juices of plants in the mustard/cabbage family (Brassicaceae). Can be a very serious crop pest.”
Basil and pepper and not in the family Brassicaceae, but if the eggs were laid on those plants, it is possible that they may also provide a food source. Stink Bugs have piercing/sucking mouthparts, and they feed on the fluids of the plants.
If the Harlequin Stink Bugs are particularly plentiful, they may cause irreparable damage to young and sensitive plants.
Cool. Thanks very much for the response.
Correction: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Hatchlings
July 1, 2011
Thanks to Jean who provided a comment with the correction.
Letter 2 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Mottled brown, pentagonal beetles around the house
March 31, 2010
A year or so ago, my mother and I started seeing these little guys all around the house, and they’ve been here ever since. They’re about 3/4″ long, and the six legs are jointed to one point underneath the body.
They also fly (unexpectedly into one’s face or onto one’s keyboard!) short distances, often smashing into walls or other fixtures, and have an alarming habit of losing their grip on a wall or ceiling and falling onto whomever happens to be standing below.
They don’t appear to be eating any of our clothes or any bits of the house, nor do they bite, sting, or really bother us in any way, but we still want to know if they’re something to worry about. The place is absolutely infested with them.
This is a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, not a beetle. Interestingly, the family is Pentatomidae, a reference to the body shape that you described as pentagonal. They often seek shelter indoors as the weather cools, hibernating until the spring warmth arouses them. They will not harm you or your home, or your pets.
Letter 3 – Invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: Chico, CA USA
August 21, 2014 5:17 pm
I was sitting on the couch and look at my window and though to myself, “That can’t be a tick.” I’ve been wondering what it is this whole time. Please help me out, and also if it helps for some reason there’s aanother one of these things close by, but its dead and all that left of it is like its shell.
This is an invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, a nonnative species that is spreading in North America.
Letter 4 – Invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: what’s that bug
Location: Stockton CA
October 10, 2014 11:05 am
I live in Stockton CA, about 35 miles south of Sacramento. These bugs just started appearing in my home about a week ago. They vary in size, this one about the size ofa quarter. They can fly a bit. Saw another one about 2 inches, didn’t look quite the same but I think it was.
Thanks for any help you can give.
Accidentally introduced into North America from China in the last years of the twentieth century, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is now well established in much of North America, having made an appearance in California just recently.
According to BugGuide, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are “Highly polyphagous, reported on ~300 plant spp. in its native range; feeds mostly on fruit, but also on leaves, stems, petioles, flowers, and seeds. Damage typically confined to the fruiting structures.”
Though it poses a significant agricultural threat, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug seems to draw the most attention from its habit of entering homes to hibernate when the weather begins to cool.
Letter 5 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: What is this bug
Location: South Carolina
January 4, 2015 8:49 pm
I have found three of these in my house. What are they? They move slowly.
Signature: Hates bugs
Dear Hates bugs,
This is an invasive exotic species, a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. It was recently introduced to North America and spread rapidly across the continent.
Letter 6 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: Keep getting these in the house
January 25, 2015 6:29 am
I live in MA and they have been coming since we moved in in June.
This is an invasive, exotic species, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, and it was accidentally introduced to North America from China. It has since spread across the continent and it is a nuisance to residents when it enters homes to hibernate. It is also a significant agricultural pest.
Letter 7 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: What type of bug is this ?
Location: Glendale CA
October 14, 2015 6:02 pm
I live in Glendale Ca . I will attach a picture of a bug I have never seen . I was wondering if you can tell me what it is .
Signature: Jack A.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is one of the more recently introduced, noxious, Invasive Exotic species that has spread across North America at a rapid pace. According to BugGuide: “First collected in 1998 in Allentown, PA, but probably arrived several years earlier.”
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug feeds on hundreds of different species of plants, enabling it to survive just about anywhere it is introduced. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug enters homes to hibernate, and it can easily stow away in suitcases and boxes which means it can be transported from place to place when people travel, which is facilitating its spread.
According to the University of California Integrated Pest Management System site: “The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) or BMSB is native to Eastern Asia, mainly China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. The first report of this species in the United States occurred in Pennsylvania in 2001, although it is likely to have established as early as 1996.
It has been found in at least 40 states, either as reproducing populations or single sightings; and the list of states with official sightings has grown each year. The brown marmorated stink bug was first found in Oregon in 2004 and has spread through many parts of that state and into Washington. In California a reproducing population was first found in Pasadena and San Marino (Los Angeles County) in 2006, and it has since been detected in many other parts of California.
In 2013, large reproducing populations were discovered in Sacramento and Yuba City. As BMSB expands its range on the West Coast, it will likely continue to be found first in urban areas.” This is a bad bug at least in is introduced range.
Letter 8 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: Flying bug in my room
Location: Los Angeles ca
November 18, 2015 12:45 am
I live in Los Angeles and the other night I saw a flying bug in my room I got rid of it then tonight again I see the same kind of bug I need to know what t is and is it dangerous it has rough skin well it at least it looks rough they fly
Signature: Doesn’t matter just wanna know what this bug is lol
This is a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, an invasive, exotic species introduced from Asia and now found throughout North America.
Letter 9 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Northern Illinois
December 30, 2015 11:00 pm
I have been seeing these bugs in my house for about the past month. It is December and I live in the northern part of Illinois. I want to identify the bug before I contact my landlord so any help you can give me would be appreciated.
While they are not dangerous to humans, pets or furnishings, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug can be quite a nuisance when they enter homes as the weather cools so that they can hibernate. This is an invasive, exotic species that was first discovered near Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1998, according to BugGuide.
This non-native species from China is a general feeder, and according to BugGuide: “Damage reported in the US to apples, pears, peaches, cherries, corn, tomatoes, peppers, soybean, ornamentals…” and
“Highly polyphagous, reported on ~300 plant spp. in its native range; feeds mostly on fruit, but also on leaves, stems, petioles, flowers, and seeds. Damage typically confined to the fruiting structures.”
Letter 10 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: what’s that bug?
Location: Northern IL
February 2, 2016 3:53 pm
This is from Northern IL and usually appears in the Winter indoors
Signature: Thanks, Ted
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is non-native species introduced from Asia that has spread across North America in a very short time. They seek shelter indoors when the weather cools. According to the USDA site, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: “Feeds on a variety of plants, including fruit trees, ornamentals, and some crops.”
Letter 11 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: Found in my Daughter’s Room
Location: New York (Long Island)
April 11, 2016 6:49 am
My daughter (4 years old) has always been both fascinated and scared of bugs, so finding the attached bug in her room at bedtime was an adventure.
We captured the bug carefully, and while I was taking it outside, realized that we had never seen this sort of bug before.
So we carefully put it on the ground and put a plastic cup over it. My daughter ran and grabbed her magnifying glass immediately and started to examine it. With the cup between her and it, she felt brave enough to look at it and ask questions, like “what does it eat?” and “how did it get inside?” Once she was done, we took it outside and put it in the flower bed.
It was found on Long Island (New York) in April, just relaxing on a wall in my daughter’s room. I think the picture is pretty good, and you can zoom in for more.
I’d love to talk to her again about what sort of bug it is, and provide more info; she’s naturally very curious and the more she learns the more she wants to know!
We applaud you trying to educate your daughter regarding insects, but we wish you had encountered a better species for this lesson. This is a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys, and while it is not dangerous to humans, this is an invasive species accidentally introduced to North America from Asia.
Because the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is able to feed on such a wide variety of plants, it has quickly spread across the entire continent of North America, and it is expected to become a significant agricultural pest.
Additionally, it is a species that seeks shelter indoors when weather begins to cool, making itself known in the spring when it tries to find egress. It is the bane of thousands of homemakers who find they are sharing their warm homes with countless Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs. Again, they pose no direct threat to people or homes, but they are a nuisance.
Thank you very much for the very prompt reply!
I guess we’ll just replace one lesson with another. From friendly and useful insects to the invasion of areas by non-indigenous species and the impact it can have.
Seeing as I found one already – should I expect to find me? And what’s the best course of action when they are found?
Finding one means you will more than likely find more. Though we typically encourage tolerance of the lower beasts, we don’t have much tolerance when it comes to invasive species, like the Argentine Ants. We do not have any reservations to manually squashing Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs when we find them in our home office.
Letter 12 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Southern California, USA
December 7, 2016 10:56 pm
Hello, I live in Southern California, and these little critters have been sneaking into my house every once in a while. I think it is some type of beetle, but I’m just not sure, so I wanted to get a second opinion!
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an Invasive Exotic species that was accidentally introduced to North America in 1998 when it was first found in Maryland. It has since spread across North America.
In addition to being an agricultural pest that feeds on hundreds of different plant species, it is a nuisance when it enters homes to hibernate when the weather begins to cool.
Letter 13 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: What is this
Location: Darien Illinois suburb of Chicago
January 22, 2017 7:27 am
Found on second floor of 2 story home
Signature: Tim Vavra
The invasive, introduced Brown Marmorated Stink Bug frequently enters homes to hibernate when the weather cools.
Letter 14 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: A house nuisance
Location: Chicago, IL
January 29, 2017 9:53 am
This bug has appeared regularly over the past six months in our house
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was accidentally introduced into North America from China in the late 20th Century. Since it has no natural enemies, it quickly spread from Pennsylvania across the continent. They are most commonly noticed when they enter homes as the weather cools so they can hibernate until spring warmth.
Letter 15 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: Brown Marmorated Stinkbug?
Geographic location of the bug: Puget Sound, WA State
Time: 08:07 PM EDT
Hello! Thanks for maintaining this cool and informative site! I saw what I think is a Brown Marmorated Stinkbug at my home in a suburb South of Seattle. It’s the second one this year, and I saw one last year as well. Can you possibly confirm?
And if it is a Halyomorpha halys, should I report it to my state agricultural authority? I know they are known in Eastern Washington, but I’m not sure about the Puget Sound area. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed: Jason
This is indeed an invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. The species has spread so far, so quickly in North America (see BugGuide data map) that it has begun posing a serious threat to some agricultural crops and many ornamental plants and fruits and vegetables in home gardens.
Contacting your state agricultural authority at this time is probably not necessary. We know the species is most likely here to stay.
Letter 16 – Newly Hatched Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Eggs
Subject: Eggs on back of apple leaf
Geographic location of the bug: Provo, Utah
Time: 03:22 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Two areas on the back of this apple leaf. I don’t recognize either. First is the cluster of eggs or small bugs in orange and black and the second is the white lattice structure.
How you want your letter signed: Ken Loveland
Your image depicts the hatched eggs and the newly hatched nymphs of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, a recently introduced, highly invasive species that has spread across North America in just a few years. Here is a BugGuide image for comparison. According to BugGuide: “in the US, reported to damage apples, pears, peaches, cherries, corn, tomatoes, peppers, soybean, ornamentals…”
Wow. That’s horrible news. Thanks so much for the information and for your service.
Letter 17 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: Found four of these in my house
Geographic location of the bug: Northern westchester. South salem new york
Time: 03:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I found one dead on A sweater in my drawer, another on the steps and two more. They are hard shelled. Please see if you can identify.
How you want your letter signed: Roberts
While your image is quite blurry, we are confident this is a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, an Invasive Exotic species from Asia that is now established across North America. Invasive Exotic species often proliferate as they have no natural enemies. They are also Household Pests since they seek shelter indoors to escape our cold winters.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs pose a significant threat to agriculture since, according to BugGuide, they are “Highly polyphagous, reported on ~300 plant spp. in its native range; feeds mostly on fruit, but also on leaves, stems, petioles, flowers, and seeds. Damage typically confined to fruiting structures.” Indoors they are a nuisance, but they will not damage your home nor its furnishings.
Thank you so much!
Letter 18 – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Subject: Stink bug?
Geographic location of the bug: Framingham, MA
Time: 03:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello Bugman!
My daughter reached out to me with pics of an insect she and her hubby are finding in their new home in Framingham, MA. Apparently with the cold weather, they’re finding an increasing number of these critters around the windowsills. They look suspiciously like stink bugs, yet I’ve seen other similar-looking insects that are not stink bugs.
Please advise. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed: Kenda
This is indeed a Stink Bug. It is an invasive, exotic Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, an Asian species first discovered in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s, and it has now spread across North America. It poses a serious threat to agriculture as it is known to feed from over 300 different plant species.
According to BugGuide: “n the US, reported to damage apples, pears, peaches, cherries, corn, tomatoes, peppers, soybean, ornamentals…” Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs frequently enter homes to hibernate when the weather cools. They will not harm the home, but they are a nuisance if they are plentiful.
Thank you, Daniel. What would you suggest to be the least harmful way to remove them from the home? Should my daughter and son-in-law be concerned about eggs in and around the home or do the Stink Bugs lay on specific plants/crops?
When it comes to invasive species like the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, we have no reservations about squashing individuals found in the home. If you are concerned about not harming the bug, the best way to remove it is with a martini glass or wine glass.
Trap the insect in the vessel and slip a postcard under the rim and then transport the insect outside. We use that method with stinging insects and any that we do not want to handle either because they might bite or because they are especially delicate.
We doubt they will lay eggs in the home, and the list of outdoor plants upon which they will feed is quite extensive, so we are presuming something they will eat is growing in your daughter’s yard.
Update: February 17, 2019
A Facebook comment by Fern mentioned this New Yorker article where it states: “What makes the brown marmorated stinkbug unique, though, is not just its tendency to congregate in extremely large numbers but the fact that it boasts a peculiar and unwelcome kind of versatility.
Very few household pests destroy crops; fleas and bedbugs are nightmarish, but not if you’re a field of corn. Conversely, very few agricultural pests pose a problem indoors; you’ll seldom hear of people confronting a swarm of boll weevils in their bedroom.
But the brown marmorated stinkbug has made a name for itself by simultaneously threatening millions of acres of American farmland and grossing out the occupants of millions of American homes.”