Stink bugs and assassin bugs look similar because both of them are both about 1 inch long. In this article, we discuss the differences between stink bug vs assassin bug in detail.
Stink bugs and assassin bugs look alike, but the similarities end there. Assassin bugs feed on stink bugs and are natural enemies of most other pests in your garden.
Stink bugs are harmless to humans but can be a nuisance pest because they emit a foul odor when you get too close to them.
Assassin bugs are also harmless to humans, but the kissing bug, one type of nocturnal assassin bug, can bite them in the night and cause a deadly disease.
In this article, we explore the differences between these two varieties of insects in terms of their appearance, lifecycle, feeding habits, habitats, and other important differences.
What Do They Look Like?
There are a wide variety of insects in both species, but we have listed some common features in both cases.
Stink bugs have shield-shaped bodies. They have a broader frontal part and a comparatively narrow and rounded posterior. Additionally, they have a triangle-shaped plate on their backs.
Stink bugs have piercing mouthparts which they use to suck sap from plants like aphids and plant-infesting insects.
Most stink bugs have pale green-colored bodies, along with shades of brown coloration.
There are more than 5,000 species of stink bugs, and their physical features can vary from species to species.
For example, the green and the southern green stink bugs look alike, but the green stink bug has a pointed spine between its hind legs which the southern varieties lack.
Assassin bugs have 7,000 subspecies under them. Assassin bugs are often more colorful than stink bugs and can have patterns of colors, including brown, red, yellow, orange, and black.
Their legs are longer than stink bugs, almost similar to crickets. Both the stink bugs and assassin bugs measure about an inch.
However, some assassin bugs, such as the Psyttala horrida, can reach longer sizes of up to 1.8 inches.
Some assassin bugs, such as the kissing bug, are harmful to humans, but no stink bugs are harmful directly to us.
Kissing bugs have either black or brown wings, which might have red, yellow, or orange stripes on their edges.
Do They Bite?
Stink bugs do not bite, but assassin bugs do. However, stink bugs can be harmful in other ways.
Stink bugs are harmless to humans and animals as they neither bite nor are vectors of any disease.
However, some people can develop allergic symptoms such as runny noses, sneezing, and rashes in the presence of brown marmorated stink bugs.
This allergic response is to the odor-causing chemicals that these bugs release as part of their defense mechanism.
Not all assassin bugs bite humans under normal circumstances. However, most of them will bite you if they feel threatened. These are extremely painful bites in most cases.
Assassin bugs release a venomous secretion from their mouthparts to dissolve the tissues of their victims so that they can feed easily on them.
When they bite humans, they release these secretions into your skin, resulting in sharp pain, lesions, and discomfort that might last for weeks.
The kissing bug is the deadliest bug for humans. They bite humans on the face and near the eyes to suck out blood and leave disease-carrying feces behind.
What Is Their Lifecycle?
Stink bugs and assassin bugs undergo a similar life cycle of incomplete metamorphosis. They go from egg to nymph to adult, with several stages of molting in between.
The number of life stages of sting bugs varies from species to species.
The male and female stink bugs are actively involved in mating during the months of autumn and spring. After mating, the female lays eggs.
Later these eggs hatch into nymphs. The female then spends its time feeding these nymphs until they are mature. During this stage, female stink bugs use their piercing mouthparts like beaks to feed their young ones.
The larvae then remain active and continue to grow before the onset of winters, at which time they find places to hide during the harsh weather. They remain dormant for the winter and only come out when the weather is warmer.
Assassin bugs develop from eggs that hatch and give rise to nymphs or undeveloped bugs, which undergo several stages of development to become mature adult bugs.
While the nymphs are wingless, the adults have wings. The nymphs go through five instars (stages of development), and at the last phase of molting, they develop wings.
What Do They Feed On?
One key difference between these bugs is what they eat: stink bugs are pure plant sap suckers, whereas assassin bugs feed on other insects.
Stink bugs can be of many types, and their diet varies for each species. For example, the marmorated stink bugs feed mainly on fruit such as apples, peaches, and other tree fruits.
Most stink bugs feed on plant parts and feast on vegetables, fruits, and raw crops such as soybeans, corn, and beans. They also feed on your ornamental plants.
Stink bugs are considered pests by gardeners.
As the name suggests, assassin bugs are carnivorous and feed on insects such as native stink bugs, sawflies, caterpillars, aphids, and larvae of some beetles.
They also feed on nymphs and adult forms of stink bugs. They are generalist predators and feed on anything that they can find.
Assassin bugs are considered beneficial insects, and many use them in their gardens for pest control.
Where Do They Live?
Stink bugs try to enter homes during winter, but assassin bugs are mostly found outside in the gardens.
During winter, stink bugs find shelter in places such as under a pile of leaves, in your house’s attic, in your dog’s house, chicken coop, or kennel.
They remain in their shelters until the weather warms up when they start moving outside. They are attracted to light and may enter your home if you leave your porch lights on at night.
On the other hand, assassin bugs live close to the nests of the insects they prey on. In short, an infestation of pests in your garden or house may attract assassin bugs.
Like we said earlier, some assassin bugs can be harmful. Beware of kissing bugs that spread diseases and bite humans. Kissing bugs are mostly found in southern regions of the United States.
Do They Cause Diseases?
As mentioned earlier, stink bugs do not usually bite humans and so do not cause any direct skin disease or inflammation.
But, you should note that they can transmit diseases indirectly. Most stink bugs eat fruits leaving behind a “cat-faced” deformity. Eating this damaged fruit can be harmful.
Stink bug infestation can dramatically reduce the growth of soybean and other plants because they suck the nourishing sap from the plants.
Assassin bugs can cause disease, especially kissing bugs that bite on the face. These bugs are known to transmit a disease called Chagas Disease.
Kissing bugs are hematophagous insects, which simply means they feed on your blood. They do so by piercing a few layers of your skin and inserting their mouthparts into a blood capillary.
If you rub the area after an assassin bug stinks, the feces get inside and into the blood. If you somehow get the feces into your eyes, you can get an eye infection as well.
If you see this bug in your home, you should immediately think about pest control. Chagas Disease kills over 10,000 people every year.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are assassin bugs and stink bugs the same thing?
No, they are not the same at all. Assassin bugs are predators of stink bugs. They also have different features, colors, and feeding habits.
Although their nymphal stages are indistinguishable, adult assassin bugs have more colorful bodies with various patterns.
Do assassin bugs eat stink bugs?
Yes, assassin bugs eat stink bugs. They also eat many other insects like aphids, sawflies, and caterpillars. They are a type of biological control for these pests.
But you need to be careful while bringing assassin bugs into your house for pest control. Some types of assassin bugs suck human blood and cause diseases.
Are assassin bugs harmful to humans?
Most assassin bugs are harmless to humans, but some species of assassin bugs, such as kissing bugs, can be dangerous.
They are known to bite your face (near your lips and eyes, which is why the name). Although their bite is not very painful, it can carry Chagas disease, a potentially fatal disease.
What happens if a stink bug bites you?
Stink bugs do not generally bite humans or our pets. They enter human homes when the outside temperature drops.
Stink bugs can cause allergic reactions in some people, especially those who already have allergies to cockroaches and other insects.
Assassin bugs and stink bugs look very similar at the nymphal stage of their lives. But as they become mature, you can easily tell the difference between the two.
Although assassin bugs can control a stink bug infestation, it is not wise to release assassin bugs into your home as some of these bugs are harmful.
Thank you for reading!