Stink bugs and bed bugs are two common household pests that can cause discomfort and frustration for homeowners. Though both are insects, they exhibit differences in appearance, behavior, and the kind of problems they pose.
The brown marmorated stink bug is characterized by its shield shape and dark, mottled brown color. When disturbed or crushed, these bugs release a foul-smelling liquid to deter predators. On the other hand, bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on human blood. They are typically found in bedding and furniture, making them particularly troublesome for people who suffer from their bites at night.
As you learn more about stink bugs and bed bugs, it’s important to recognize the unique challenges each pest presents in order to effectively manage and prevent infestations. By understanding their differences, you can take the appropriate steps to protect your home and health from these unwelcome visitors.
Understanding Bed Bugs and Stink Bugs
Profile of a Bed Bug
Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on human blood. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1mm to 7mm in size. Their bites can cause itchiness and discomfort, but they are not known to transmit diseases. To get rid of bed bugs, it’s essential to follow an integrated pest management approach that includes preventive measures, monitoring, and the use of EPA-approved pesticides.
- Size: 1mm to 7mm
- Color: Reddish-brown
- Feeds on: Human blood
- Bites: Itchy and uncomfortable
Profile of a Stink Bug
Stink bugs are brown or green insects that are known for their distinctive shield shape and odor. They belong to the family Pentatomidae, and one common example is the brown marmorated stink bug. While most stink bugs species are not invasive, the brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive species that can damage crops and infest homes. Stink bugs do not bite humans, but they can release an unpleasant smell when disturbed.
- Color: Brown or green
- Shape: Shield
- Odor: Unpleasant when disturbed
- Bites: Do not bite humans
|Feature||Bed Bug||Stink Bug|
|Size||1mm to 7mm||Varies|
|Color||Reddish-Brown||Brown or Green|
|Bites||Itchy and uncomfortable||Do not bite humans|
|Odor||None||Yes, when disturbed|
In conclusion, bed bugs and stink bugs differ in various ways such as how they affect humans. Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on human blood and cause itchy bites, while stink bugs are generally harmless. These characteristics make bed bugs a more serious concern for human health and comfort. Understanding the differences between these two pests can help you identify and address infestations in your home more effectively.
Habitat and Behavior
Bed Bug Habits
Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. They prefer to live near human habitats, so you will often find them in your home, hiding in crevices of mattresses, bed frames, and other furniture. These pests are attracted to warmth and moisture, and their ideal living conditions are warm, dark hiding spots close to their hosts. Since they are nocturnal, they avoid light and movement during the day, only coming out at night to feed on exposed areas of skin such as the face, neck, arms, and hands (Source).
Stink Bug Habits
Stink bugs are quite different in their habits and habitat preferences, and they are not parasitic. During the summer, they can be found in gardens, feeding on plants and crops. However, in colder months, stink bugs may venture indoors seeking warmth, often hibernating in attics, basements, or other secluded areas in your home (Source). Unlike bed bugs, stink bugs are not attracted to humans or our sleeping habits but may be attracted to the warmth of our homes during winter.
Here is a comparison table to highlight the differences between bed bug and stink bug habits:
|Habit||Bed Bugs||Stink Bugs|
|Infestations||Homes, mattresses, furniture||Gardens, crops, attics, basements|
|Feeding||Human and animal blood||Plants and crops|
|Attraction||Warmth, moisture, carbon dioxide||Warmth (during winter)|
|Hibernation||Not applicable||Attracted to warm indoors during winter|
- Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on human blood, while stink bugs feed on plants and crops.
- Bed bugs infest homes and furniture, while stink bugs are more commonly found in gardens and crops, but may venture indoors for warmth when the weather gets cold.
- Bed bugs are nocturnal and avoid light, while stink bugs are active during the day.
- Both bed bugs and stink bugs are attracted to warmth but for different reasons – bed bugs for feeding and stink bugs for hibernation during winter.
Similarities and Differences
Stink bugs and bed bugs may appear similar at first glance, but they have several key differences that can help you tell them apart.
Stink bugs have shield-shaped bodies, which are typically brownish-orange in color, while bed bugs are reddish-brown and oval-shaped. Both insects have six legs and antennae, but their body shapes are distinct.
Stink bugs and bed bugs differ in their habits. Stink bugs are not parasites, while bed bugs feed on human and animal blood and are found in areas where people sleep.
Stink bugs release a foul odor when disturbed or threatened, hence their name. Bed bugs, on the other hand, do not emit such odors.
It is possible to mistake stink bugs for other insects like ladybugs, kissing bugs, or assassin bugs due to their shape and color. However, their distinct shield-shaped bodies and foul odor can help distinguish them from these other bugs.
Bed bugs can also be mistaken for other insects, but their oval shape and feeding habits make them recognizable.
|Feature||Stink Bugs||Bed Bugs|
|Release Foul Odor||Yes||No|
From the comparison table, you can see how stink bugs and bed bugs differ in several aspects. By understanding these differences, you can easily distinguish between the two and ensure proper identification and treatment if necessary.
Management and Prevention Methods
Bed Bug Management
- Regular inspection: The best way to prevent bed bugs is by conducting regular inspections for signs of an infestation. Check your mattress, bedding, and furniture for any evidence of bed bugs, such as shed skins or eggs1.
- Declutter: Decluttering your living area can help to eliminate hiding spots for bed bugs2.
- Sealing cracks: Seal cracks and crevices in walls and furniture to prevent bed bugs from entering or hiding2.
- Cleaning: Wash your bedding, clothes, and any other potentially infested materials in hot water to kill bed bugs2.
- Pest control: If you find an infestation, consider contacting professional pest control services3 to help eliminate bed bugs.
Stink Bug Management
- Seal cracks: Keep stink bugs from entering your home by sealing any cracks or gaps around windows and doors3.
- Home maintenance: Install door sweeps and window screens to block off any potential entry points1.
- Traps: Set up pheromone traps to capture stink bugs4. Remember to dispose of caught bugs outdoors to avoid their characteristic smell.
- Vacuum cleaner: Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any stink bugs you find inside your home4. After vacuuming, empty the bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash can.
- Neem: Neem oil can act as a natural deterrent for stink bugs4. Spray it around potential entry points to help keep these insects at bay.
By following these management and prevention methods, you can minimize the chances of encountering both bed bugs and stink bugs in your home.
|Features||Bed Bug Management||Stink Bug Management|
|Pest control services||✔️|
Impact and Actions Required
When it comes to stink bugs and bed bugs, their impact and the actions required to manage them differ significantly.Stink bugs are primarily a nuisance, while bed bugs can cause discomfort and allergic reactions.
- Originating from East Asia, these bugs have now become widespread across North America, causing issues in homes, orchards, and farms.
- They can fly, making them highly mobile pests.
- Stink bugs are not known to cause allergic reactions or spread diseases. However, they can damage crops and vegetation.
To get rid of stink bugs, here are some measures you can follow:
- Seal gaps in doors and windows.
- Use special traps or insecticides approved for stink bug control.
- Monitor populations on farms and orchards to take early action.
- Unlike stink bugs, bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on human blood, making them potential causes for discomfort and allergic reactions.
- They are known to lay eggs in mattresses, furniture, and other household items.
To deal with a bed bug infestation, here are some steps you can take:
- Inspect your home regularly for signs of infestations, such as eggs, fecal stains, or the bugs themselves.
- Wash your bedding and clothes at high temperatures to kill any bed bugs or eggs present.
- Consult a professional exterminator for effective bed bug control methods.
|Pest||Impact||Actions Required||Can Cause Allergic Reactions|
|Stink Bugs||Nuisance||Seal gaps, use traps||No|
|Bed Bugs||Discomfort||Inspect, wash, consult||Yes|
By understanding the differences between stink bugs and bed bugs, you can implement the appropriate measures to minimize their impact on your life and property. Remember, early detection and action are vital for effective pest management.
Ecology of Bed Bugs and Stink Bugs
Bed Bug Predators
Bed bugs feed on human blood, and they usually become active at night when people are sleeping. Although they don’t transmit diseases, they can cause itching and allergic reactions. Luckily, several natural predators help control bed bug populations. Some examples include:
- Spined soldier bugs: These predatory stink bugs feed on various insect larvae, including bed bugs.
- Ladybugs: These beneficial insects devour bed bugs and also feed on other pests like aphids.
However, these predators alone may not be enough to completely eradicate bed bug infestations. It’s essential for you to regularly inspect your surroundings and implement integrated pest management strategies.
Stink Bug Predators
Stink bugs, such as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) and the green stink bug, primarily feed on vegetation. They puncture plant tissue and suck out nutrients, causing damage to crops, ornamental plants, and gardens. Some stink bugs are also invasive species, posing risks to local ecosystems.
Fortunately, a variety of natural predators help keep stink bug populations in check:
- Predatory stink bugs: Some stink bugs, like the spined soldier bug, are beneficial predators. They feed on other pests, including destructive stink bugs.
- Leaf-footed bugs: These insects prey on stink bug eggs, reducing their numbers.
- Other beneficial insects: Ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps may also feed on stink bug eggs or larvae.
Combining knowledge of these natural predators with proper pest management practices can help minimize stink bug infestations and protect your vegetation.
|Feature||Bed Bugs||Stink Bugs|
|Invasive species||No||Yes (BMSB)|
|Natural predators||Spined soldier bug, Ladybugs||Spined soldier bug, Leaf-footed bug, Ladybugs|
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 – Orange Black Stink Bug from Australia
Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 8:49 PM
Found this one today. Only small so hopefully it is not just an early instar of something plain or horrible, it would be a shame to see it grow out of this stunning colour scheme. Hope you like it.
While we agree that your insect is stunning, we disagree that it is an Assassin Bug. It is actually an Orange Black Stink Bug, Novatilla virgata, and we identified it on the Brisbane Insect Website. This is an adult insect as it is winged, and its coloration will not change.
Letter 2 – Newly Hatched Hemipterans: Stink Bugs? or other?
tiny red bugs on avocado seed……
the past few days i’ve been trying to figure out what kind of bugs these are! they are very small (about 1.5mm) with a bulbous, shiny red body, 6 legs, black head and antennas. i found them on my front porch on my avocado seed that was sitting in a glass of water in the sun. at first i thought they were baby ladybugs so i moved the seed out of the water and onto a plant so they wouldn’t drown, but later found that baby ladybugs have the black spots just like adults…..so what are these?!!? i know they are not mites, which is the only "small red bug" i can find on the internet. i live in austin, tx and (if this even matters) the weather has been 65-75 degrees in february. after two days of searching all the resources i could find online i’ve decided to take a shot at writing! they seem so simple, yet i can’t for the life of me figure them out! i’ve attached a few pictures i took this morning…. thank you in advance,
We can accurately give you a general identification, but we are bound and determined to be more specific. These are newly hatched Hemipterans, True Bugs. We thought they looked like Stink Bugs, but finding them on an avocado pit is puzzling unless the female stink bug just laid her eggs on its surface not considering it as a food source. We did find a very similar image on BugGuide, also from Texas, that is just identified as a nymphal Hemipteran herd, but it is suspected that they are Stink Bugs, family Pentatomidae. BugGuide had another image from Virginia posted with the following comment by Eric Eaton: “They often stay together to re-inforce their warning colors of red and black. After the next molt they will disperse a bit.” Another similar image on BugGuide from California is just listed as True Bugs as is one from Alabama. Another virtually identical image on BugGuide is listed as a not yet identified stink bug nymph.
Letter 3 – Newly Hatched Hemipterans: Probably Stink Bugs
This is in Central Australia. I found a set of eggs underneath a small green leaf of my tomato plant. Curious as to what they were and hoping they were ladybugs, I placed the leaf in a spice jar, and this morning I was greeted by these teeny tiny beetles. I love how the eggs have now got little lids with "latches". I haven’t a clue what they are. Do you?
These are not beetles. They are True Bugs, Hemipterans. We suspect they are probably Stink Bugs in the family Pentatomidae.
Letter 4 – Newly hatched Predatory Stink Bugs
Could these be Wheel Bug Nymphs?
I have searched through many, many, MANY of your pages for this particular type of insect. The nearest I can come to I.D.ing it is a Wheel Bug Nymph but it just doesn’t look precisely like one of those. I found these insects on the outside of the house tonight all huddled together. They seemed to sense danger was near and began to separate as the camera lens moved closer to them. They were not there this afternoon when I was outside. I am located in Richmond, Virginia. Thanks for any help you can give. I LOVE your website and refer to it frequently. I am usually successful in identifying insects without bothering you but I’m just not sure about this one.
These are newly hatched Predatory Stink Bugs, Euthyrhynchus floridanus. Great photo.
Letter 5 – possibly Two Spotted Stink Bug but without the spots!!!!
Please id this bug for me
Hi Bug Man,
My kids found this bug in our house today; we live in NW Illinois. At first they thought it was a box elder bug or a shield bug, but I’m pretty sure it’s not one of those. I’ve searched the "beetles" and "true bugs" sections of your site, and can’t find it. We homeschool, so our regular lessons got dropped today for a little entemology! Can you help?
Our website is not without its flaws. Stink Bugs have been broken away from the more general category of True Bugs because we have gotten so many letters relating to them specifically. According to BugGuide, the Two Spotted Stink Bug, Perillus bioculatus, a predatory species, is a biological control against the Colorado Potato Beetle. Your specimen is undoubtedly the same genus, but there is a noticeable absence of the two spots. It is possibly just a color variation, or possibly a separate species. We will check with Julieta Brambila for a positive identification.
Letter 6 – Predatory Stink Bug
I was wondering if you could help me identify this little guy. I found him when I was mowing the lawn, having a snack of the caterpillars seen in the second image (Gypsy Moth?). He looked intriguing, so I knocked him off and took him up to the porch for a better look. My first guess is some form of stink bug, since it ejected some kind of liquid from its abdomen when perturbed, and the description seems to match the letter from ‘April’ on the Stink Bug page. I haven’t been able to find any pictures similar in coloring on your website, so I elected to ask the master. Any idea? He was about a half inch long, iridescent green body with red highlights. Found in North Florida.
We agree this is a Predatory Stink Bug, and we turned to Eric Eaton for assistance. Here is his response: “Yes, nymph of predatory stinkbug, something floridanus:-) Hey, I have to leave a LITTLE work for you” So a Google search gave us this site which has information on your insect, which we believe to be Alcaeorrhynchus grandis. There is a link to another page with the Florida Predatory Stink Bug, Euthyrhynchus floridanus, an easily confused species in early stages.
Letter 7 – Predatory Stink Bug from Brazil
Location: Londrina. Brazil
June 23, 2011 10:07 am
That’s a killer.
Signature: Aloysio Paschoal
I’m sending the other photos by e-mail.
I’m having trouble to send the images. Always come back with an error.
Love the site
That is one interesting Predatory Stink Bug you have there in Brazil. Your first photo shows it feeding on another Stink Bug that might even be an immature member of the same species. Your second photo shows it feeding on a Solitary Bee and the third image shows it feeding on a Bee as well. Your photos are excellent additions to our Food Chain page. We are copying our webmaster in the hopes that he is able to assist you with the technical problems you experienced.
Letter 8 – Predatory Stink Bug Nymph
Location: Columbia, SC
April 22, 2013 6:07 pm
This spider was very fast and appeared to be actively hunting when found.
Signature: Ryan Marshall
This is not a Spider but a True Bug with six legs and sucking mouthparts. There is always a danger with common names when a location is given, especially if the range occurs more widely than the name indicates. This is a Florida Predatory Stink Bug nymph, Euthyrhynchus floridanus, and though the name might indicate it is only found in Florida, its actual range, according to BugGuide, is from Pennsylvania to Brazil.
Letter 9 – Predatory Stink Bug nymph on Milkweed
Subject: Pink aphid like bug
Geographic location of the bug: Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Time: 10:15 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I found this guy at the top of my milkweed plant on August 2nd 2019. It’s beautiful. What is it?
How you want your letter signed: Linda
Are you by chance growing milkweed to encourage Monarch butterflies? If you are, you might want to consider relocating this beneficial Predatory Stink Bug nymph away from your milkweed as they have been documented feeding on Monarch Caterpillars.
That would explain why my monarch caterpillars keep disappearing. I have found 3 dead and about 10 just went missing. It’s been very disappointing.
Thanks for the info. I will move the bug to the front garden.
Thank you very much for the information.
Letter 10 – Predatory Stink Bugs newly hatched
Beetle, pest, harmless or just visiting?
BugmanI just this morning discovered your site. It’s a great resource. Unfortunately I didn’t take the time to look for this little (beetle ?) I have been searching the web for them and have grown weary of looking at hundreds of pictures. What are these little guys, and/or gals.I’ve never seen them before. This cluster is a little smaller in size than a dime. We live in central Virginia. I just found them Monday the 22nd sunning themselves. They were hanging out on our compost bin. We have been gardening now for about 10 years and have either:
(A) Overlooked these tiny aliens.
(B) They are at a stage of development that we have never noticed.
(C) They just arrived.
Thanks in advance and we look foreword to exploring your site.
Scott & Claudia Inge
Hi Scott and Claudia,
These are [NOT]immature Burrowing Bugs, probably Sehirus cinctus.
Correction (05/26/2006) immature burrowing bugs-a correction
Just wanted to let you know that the bugs identified as immature burrowing bugs (05/25/2006) are actually the larvae of a predatory pentatomid, Euthyrhynchus floridanus. According to the latest catalogue, they are found in eastern United States, from PA south to Mexico and Brazil. Great job with your site!
Cheers, ART EVANS
Arthur V. Evans, D.Sc.
Research Associate, Dept. of Entomology ,
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Dept. of Recent Invertebrates
Virginia Museum of Natural History
Letter 11 – Molting True Bug from Australia
Subject: Mystery beetle
Location: Montville, Queensland, Australia
December 23, 2012 9:52 pm
Hi there, we spotted this very pretty beetle/bug in Montville, Queensland, Australia. We’ve tried to identify it but have not been able to as yet. Can you help?
This is not a beetle. It is a True Bug, probably a Stink Bug. It is in the process of molting and the cast off exoskeleton is the dark bluish black portion of the insect. The new exoskeleton is still soft and it has not attained its natural color, and it is represented by the red and orange portion of the insect. Because its markings are not clearly identifiable since the new exoskeleton has not hardened and darkened, it might be difficult to get a precise species identification. True Bugs go through five molts resulting in five distinct nymph instars, and they often vary in coloration between molts which can make identification even more difficult. Generally, adult insects tend to be easier to identify.
Letter 12 – Mystery Kenyan Hemipteran
Bug on East African coast
I think this looks like a scarab beetle, can you help me further… East Africa, Kenyan coast. thanks
While we are not sure exactly what species or even what family of beetle this Kenyan beauty is, we do know it is not a scarab. When we wrote to Eric Eaton, he informed us it isn’t a beetle, but a true bug. Here is his response: ” Daniel: The ‘beetles’ from Kenya are also Hemipterans:-) They are shield bugs, probably in the genus Calidea. You’re doing great! Eric”
Letter 13 – Picasso Bug from South Africa
Subject: unidentified shield bug
Location: 50km south of where Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa borders meet.
May 11, 2015 1:24 am
Hi there. I found this bug on a bougainvilla bush in the bushveld of South Africa, just north of the Soutpansberg mountains.
Someone told me its a Maya Stinkbug but I can’t find any info on that name…
Please help me identify this little beauty!
Just last week we posted another image of this pretty Shield Bug submitted from Tanzania, Sphaerocoris annulus, and we learned it is commonly called a Picasso Bug.
Letter 14 – Picasso Bug from Tanzania
Location: Northern Tanzania
January 2, 2011 8:31 am
when on a charity trip to tanzania we found this bug. He was living in dryish grassland on the top of a small inactive volcano. It was mid july – which is their cooler, dry season. There were quite a few around but we’ve had no luck identifying it. Wondering if you could help?
Just last month we posted a photo of this species of Shield Bug and one of our readers wrote in to supply us with a species identification. Karl wrote in: “Picasso Bug and Zulu Hud Bug are the two common names I found for this guy. It’s a Shield-backed Bug (Scutelleridae), probably Sphaerocoris annulus, but there could be similar species.“
Letter 15 – Picasso Bug from Tanzania
Subject: African Beetle?
Location: Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
May 5, 2015 3:45 pm
WE went to Africa a few years ago and saw this bug. Ever since, we have been trying to find out what it was with no success. Do you know what the name of this insect is?
Signature: Seeking bug name
This beautiful Shield Bug is called a Picasso Bug, Sphaerocoris annulus. According to iNaturalist: “The colors and the design of these bugs represent a warning to predators. They also emit a noxious odour when disturbed.”
Letter 16 – Predatory Pentatomid
one for your eastern collection
Hi from Nova Scotia, Canada. Love the site and very informative for my photography. Shot this guy up in tree eating what appears to be a swallowtail caterpillar. Good to see other people who like the insects in their areas..
Halifax, Nova Scotia
The identification of immature specimens is often very difficult. We checked with Eric Eaton who echoed that: “I dont know. Good luck finding anyone who can ID nymphs! That could either be a pentatomid or an above-ground burrower bug in the genus Sehirus. Best I can do. ” Some species in the Family Pentatomidae, the Stink Bugs or Shield Bugs, are predatory. Appears you have one of those.
Letter 17 – Probably Lychee Stink Bug Uxuvia from Australia
Subject: Weird Insect
Location: Sydney Australia
January 29, 2017 2:36 am
Just curious about this one. Never seen one like this before.
This appears to us to be an Exuvia or cast-off exoskeleton that an immature insect leaves behind when it matures and molts. Our best guess is that it is the member of an order that has incomplete metamorphosis, with immature nymphs resembling adults. Alas, we do not recognize the order. We will continue to research this and we hope to get some input from our readership.
Karl Provides a Suggestion
Hi Daniel and Russel:
My first thought was that this exuviae belonged to a true bug nymph in the family Tessaratomidae. The horn-like caudal projections are a common feature among Tessaratomids, especially nymphs. A quick internet search came up with several photos of Lychee Stink Bug nymphs (Lyramorpha rosea) that appear to me as a possible candidate. I believe the black filaments visible in both exuvia photos are likely the antennae sheds. Interesting photos…regards Karl