Spined soldier bug eggs

At about this time of year I expect to start getting a lot of questions about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, or the BMSB as I like to call it. It’s an introduced stink bug from Asia, which has quickly spread across the US and has become a pest of agriculture, gardens and households. Because they’re not native, they don’t have a whole lot of predators and parasitoids which keep them in check in their native environment.

Much like the Multicolored Asian ladybeetle, these guys look for places to overwinter. Much like the Multicolored Asian ladybeetle, these guys also like to hibernate in houses. As a result, they get everywhere in huge numbers. So there’s a lot of people who go out and spray for them around their houses.

I’ve seen some discussions online, mainly through Facebook groups I’m a part of, about spraying for stink bugs in the garden. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see pictures of predatory stink bugs posted while discussing the invasives. To be fair, the more common predator Podisus does actually look very similar to the BMSB. So the mistake is understandable, but spraying these guys would remove some of the predators from the garden which would keep the pest population down.

So I thought it would be a good idea to get some resources out there for gardeners to help ID their stink bugs.

First, here’s a comparison of the predatory Spined Soldier bug and the BMSB. The feature I use, the proboscis, is on the underside of the insect. All predatory stink bugs have a thick proboscis they use to kill their prey, a lot like assassin bugs. So it’s a really good clue to quickly know if you’re looking at a good stink bug, or a bad one.

However, a lot of people might not be comfortable picking them up. That’s OK…Entomophobia is definitely something I understand. In that case, you can also use the spines and colors to tell these insects apart. The predatory stink bugs have sharp spines, whereas BMSB has dull spines. The BMSB also has white bands on their antennae, which are absent from the predatory ones.

This is mostly meant as a two-second field guide for telling apart the most common predator from the most common pest. Stink bugs are a really diverse group, and this isn’t meant to help you tell them all apart. Thankfully, Virginia Tech has a really nice and accessible key which gardeners can use to tell these guys apart.

Correction 8/31/15 10:00 PM: An earlier version of this image featured a misidentified Euschistus sp. as a Podisus.

Spined Soldier Bug in Kentucky


Podisus maculiventris
Chelsea Berish, Undergraduate Student

Spined soldier bugs can be recognized by their pointed ‘shoulders’ and dark marking on the transparent part of the front wings.

Stink bugs are common pests and can be difficult to manage in many cropping systems. Because of this, many people consider the entire group to be destructive. For example, the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive pest, received considerable popular press coverage when it was introduced into Kentucky in 2010. While many stink bug species in Kentucky can cause significant damage to crops, some species are actually beneficial predators that feed on other insects. One of these beneficial species is the spined soldier bug. The spined soldier bug is a predatory stink bug that feeds on a wide variety of field and garden pests including Mexican bean beetle, Colorado potato beetle, and imported cabbageworm. Because it feeds on insect pests, it is called a ‘natural enemy’ of some insects. And because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the spined soldier bug can be a valuable part of a crop system.

The spined soldier bug may not be the first insect we think of when considering biological control methods, but it can be purchased and released in home gardens, agricultural fields, and greenhouse operations to help control pest problems. More importantly, if noticed and properly recognized, spined soldier bug does not need to be removed or controlled like some other stink bug species that are pests.

The adult spined soldier bug is shield shaped and about 1.5 cm in length. Along the abdomen and beyond the edge of the wings is an alternating pattern of dark and light colored spots. This insect is also characterized by its mottled brown coloration and outward protruding spines located behind the head. It can be confused with the brown stink bug, which is a pest species, but the spined soldier bug has a dark marking on the transparent part of the wings that gives the appearance of a small tail.

Fig 2. The spined soldier bug nymph is often observed actively searching plants for prey.

There are 5 nymphal instars of the spined soldier bug. Development takes about 25 days, and there can be up to 3 generations in one year. Adults and instars 2, 3, 4, and 5 are known to feed on several types of moth and beetle larva with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. Nymphs look different in each instar. The first two instars are red and black, and differ only in size. The third instar has red, white, and orange markings on the abdomen. Wing pads are noticeable in the fourth instar, and the fifth instar has prominent wing pads with black, white, and red abdominal markings.

Eggs are unique in that they are metallic bronze and have what resembles spiked crowns. 20-30 eggs are deposited at a time in slightly oval clusters. Early instars are gregarious in nature. After emerging, they can be seen clustered around their egg masses as they ingest necessary bacterial symbionts associated with the eggs.

The spined soldier bug is often found on plants where prey insects are feeding. These include (but are not limited to) cruciferous, cucurbit, and solanaceous crops. When prey is scarce spined soilder bugs have been known to occasionally feed on plants, but the damage is never economically significant.

This insect is commercially available from retailers of biological control agents. It may not be cost-effective to purchase the spined soldier bug for use on large farms, but it can be a viable option for pest control in home gardens. The spined soldier bug is also extremely effective when used in enclosed greenhouses.

Fig. 3. The eggs look different from other stink bug eggs in that each has a crown of spines.

Naturally-occurring populations of spined soldier bug should be conserved. This can be accomplished by learning to recognize all life stages and leaving them undisturbed. All beneficial insects—including the spined soldier bug—can be promoted by limiting the use of non-selective insecticides. Populations of spined soldier bug can also be encouraged by planting a variety of crops and flowers in your garden or field. Natural enemies rely on pests for food, so permitting low levels of less desirable insects can also promote the presence of beneficial insects.

Spined Soldier Bug Suppliers

Biocontrol Network
5116 Williamsburg Rd.
Brentwood, TN 37027
(800) 441-2847

Green Methods
9664 Tanqueray Ct.
Redding, CA 96003
(800) 477-3715

Natural Insect Control
3737 Netherby Road
Stevensville Ontario LOS 1S0 Canada
(905) 382-2904

Planet Natural
1612 Gold Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
(800) 289-6656

Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc.
PO Box 1555
Ventura, CA 93002-1555
(800) 248-2847

Created: 12/2013

How to tell the difference between good stink bugs and bad stink bugs

Green stink bugs and the pretty little red-bellied ones are pests. Both are true bugs, as opposed to beetles, and do damage to plants. They sometimes need controls, but be careful: There are similar stink bugs that are not pests and should be protected.

The Brochymena stink bug, the spined soldier bug and other predatory stink bugs are beneficial. Rather than eating plants, they feed on insects, particularly pest insects. Colors make some of the bugs easy to identify, but others are very similar looking at first glance.

The brown marmorated stinkbug is a pest that needs controls. (Howard Garrett / Special Contributor)

Check for shoulder spines

The brown marmorated stink bug has been in the news lately. It can be a pest for any gardener or farmer, but it has exploded after the heavy rains and it is now more damaging to our landscaping than before and hurting crops on a large scale.

The marmorated stink bug has a lookalike, the Brochymena stink bug, which is beneficial. They are both grayish-brown and about the same size. Treating for all stink bugs is a mistake and wastes money, so how can you tell the difference?

The easiest way is to look at the shoulders of the bugs. The good guy’s shoulders are armed with multiple spikes. The pest bug has smooth shoulders. There are other differences, but this is a reliable general trait. The helpful spined soldier bug has armed shoulders but with only a single spine. Other beneficials have distinctive colors, spots and other markings.

1/3The Brochymena stinkbug is beneficial. Rather than eating plants, they feed on insects, pest insects, in fact. You can identify it by its shoulder spines. (Howard Garrett / Special Contributor)

2/3The spined soldier bug is beneficial. (Howard Garrett / Special Contributor)

3/3Another spined shoulder bug, which is beneficial. You can identify it by the spines on its shoulders. (Howard Garrett / Special Contributor)

How to control

All the true pest bugs — including the four-lined plant bug, leaf-footed bug, green stink bug, marmorated stink bug and others — can be controlled with the organic products.

They can be identified and caught with yellow sticky traps, repelled with garlic-pepper tea, coffee and kaolin clay, and killed with the low-toxicity products such as essential oils, orange oil and, once again, coffee. Neem also works, but the quality of neem products varies greatly. The dry product, AzaSol, is the best.

Orange oil should be used at 2 ounces per gallon of water or Garrett Juice. Good essential oil products include Puregro, EcoSafe, EcoSMART and others.

Use about a half cup of coffee grounds per gallon of water, but filter out the grounds after soaking to prevent clogging the sprayer. Straight coffee grounds can be used on the soil around plants to repel several pests. Old coffee can also be used. Just dilute 50/50 with water and spray away.

Protecting the rest

Don’t forget that the beneficial stink bugs and other non-vegetarian insects really are helpful and should be protected. They feed on and help control moths, caterpillars, harmful beetles, aphids and many other pests without hurting plants or people. Our insect book, Texas Bug Book, could help you with identification and management techniques. I hope you become as interested in insects as I have.

The two-spotted stinkbug is beneficial. (Howard Garrett / Special Contributor)


Online: dirtdoctor.com or facebook.com/thedirtdoctor.

Radio: “The Answer” KSKY-AM (660), 8 to 11 a.m. Sundays. ksky.com. The call-in number is 1-866-444-3478.

Mail: P.O. Box 140650, Dallas, TX, 75214

common name: spined soldier bug
scientific name: Podisus maculiventris (Say) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)

The spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say), is a medium-sized predatory stink bug which preys on a wide variety of other arthropods, especially larval forms of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera (Mukerji and LeRoux 1965). The adult has a prominent spine on each “shoulder.”

Figure 1. Dorsal view of an adult spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say), feeding on a mating pair of sumac flea beetles, Blepharida rhois (Forster) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Distribution (Back to Top)

This stink bug is the most common predatory stick bug in North Amerca and ranges from Mexico, the Bahamas, and parts of the West Indies, north into Canada. It has also be introduced into other countries as part of classical biological control programs (De Clercq 2008).

Description (Back to Top)

Egg: The egg is approximately 1 mm in diameter, with long projections around the operculum that are especially characteristic of Podisus spp. Eggs are laid 17 to 70 at a time in lines or loose oval masses.

Figure 2. Eggs of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Veronika Ronkos.

1st instar: This instar has a length of 1.3 to 1.5 mm. The head width, including the eyes, is 0.6 mm and the humeral width is 0.9 mm. The 1st instar nymph of Podisus maculiventris has a blackish head and thorax and reddish abdomen with black dorsal and lateral plates.

Figure 3. First instar nymphs of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

Figure 4. Size of first instar nymphs of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

2nd instar: This instar has a length of 2.5 to 3.0 mm. The head width is 0.9 mm and the humeral width is 1.3 mm. As in other asopine nymphs, the 2nd instar nymph feeds on other insects. This species is highly cannibalistic. The 2nd instar resembles the 1st instar.

Figure 5. Second instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

3rd instar: This instar has a length of 3.5 to 4. 0 mm. The head width is 1.3 mm and the humeral width is 2.0 mm. The 3rd instar nymph has a black head and thorax while the abdomen is reddish with black, orange and white maculations (markings). The central bar-shaped markings are white and the lateral markings are orange.

Figure 6. Third instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

4th instar: This instar has a length of approximately 6 mm. The head width is 1.7 mm and the humeral is 3.2 mm wide. The colorations and patterns of the 4th instar nymph are similar to that of the 3rd instar nymph, but the wing pads become noticeable.

Figure 7. Fourth instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

5th instar: This instar has a length of 8 to 10 mm. The head width is 2.2 mm and the humeral width is 4.8 mm. The wing pads are prominent in the 5th instar, and the head and thorax become mottled with brown. The abdominal markings are white or tan, and black.

Figure 8. Fifth instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

Adult: The adult male is approximately 11 mm long. The head width is 2.3 mm and the humeral width, including spines, is 7.6 mm wide. Females are slightly larger (De Clercq 2008). Adult Podisus maculiventris resemble the adult Alcaeorrhynchus grandis (Dallas) in being mottled brown in color, but Alcaeorrhynchus grandis adults are over 15 mm long and have only one spine on each humeral angle. These spines project outward, not forward as in Podisus macronatus Uhler. Each hind femur of Podisus maculiventris has two blackish dots at apical 3rd.

Figure 9. Dorsal view of a spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

Figure 10. Front lateral view of a spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

Life Cycle (Back to Top)

Kirkland (1896), Stoner (1930), Esselbaugh (1949), Mukerji and LeRoux (1965), Warren and Wallis (1971) and Richman and Whitcomb (1978) reported on the rearing of Podisus maculiventris. Their studies differed markedly in temperatures and photoperiods, consequently the time from egg to adult varied from 27 to 38 days, with the egg stage lasting five to nine days. The shortest time was reported for Florida specimens (Richman and Whitcomb 1978). Reported longevities for adults are from one to four months (De Clercq 2008).

Early instars are highly gregarious and usually remain in the same location. However, they become more solitary with each molt.

Food consumption, prey size, and energetics of Podisus maculiventris were detailed by Mukerji and LeRoux (1969a, b, c). The work by Couturier (1938) is a landmark study on the bionomics of this bug. Records in the Florida State Collection of Arthropods indicate that Podisus maculiventris is active all year in peninsular Florida, but often does not appear until spring in the “panhandle” counties. In Canada and the northern or central U.S., the spined soldier bug usually has two to three generations per year and hibernates as an adult from October to April (De Clercq 2008).

Economic Importance (Back to Top)

This insect is a generalist predator with a broad host range, reportedly attacking 90 insect species over eight orders (De Clercq 2008), including several important economic pests. Reported prey include the larvae of Mexican bean beetle, European corn borer, diamondback moth, corn earworm, beet armyworm, fall armyworm, cabbage looper, imported cabbageworm, Colorado potato beetle, velvetbean caterpillar, and flea beetles (Hoffmann and Frodsham 1993). When prey are scarce, the spined soldier bug may feed on plant juices, but this feeding is not reported to cause plant damage (De Clercq 2008).

Podisus maculiventris is associated with several crops including alfalfa, apples, asparagus, beans, celery, cotton, crucifers, cucurbits, eggplant, onions, potatoes, soybeans, sweet corn and tomatoes (Stoner 1930, Hayslip et al. 1953, Whitcomb 1973, Deitz et al. 1976, Hoffmann and Frodsham 1993).

The effectiveness of this species in preying on economic pests resulted in its use in classical biological control programs in other countries, including Eastern Europe and Russia. However, this has not been successful in colder climates, perhaps due to this species’ inability to overwinter. Podisus maculiventris eggs are also sold commercially for use in control programs and this has proven successful in controlling pests in European and North American heated greenhouses. Use in large area field crops is often not economically viable due to the production costs of raising the bug. In addition, naturally occurring populations often are not numerous enough to overpower large populations of pests in the spring. Pheromones have been used to draw natually occurring and newly emerging populations of this stink bug to target crops in the spring (De Clercq 2008).

Selected References (Back to Top)

  • Costello SL, Pratt PD, Rayachhetry MB, Center TD. 2002. Morphology and life history characteristics of Podisus mucronatus (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). Florida Entomologist 85: 344-350.
  • Couturier A. 1938. Contribution a l’étude biologique de Podisus maculiventris Say, prédateur américain du doryphore. Ann. Epiph. Phytogén. (n.s.) 4: 95-165.
  • De Clercq P, Wyckhuys KW, De Oliveira HN, Klapwijk JK. 2002. Predation by Podisus maculiventris on different life stages of Nezara viridula. Florida Entomologist 85: 197-202.
  • De Clercq P. 2008. Spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris Say (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae: Asopinae). pp. 3508-3510. In Capinera JL. (editor.) Encyclopedia of Entomology, Vol 4. Springer, Heidelberg.
  • Deitz LL, Van Duyn HW, Bradley Jr JR, Rabb RL, Brooks WM, Stinner RW. 1976. A Guide to the Identification and Biology of Soybean Arthropods in North Carolina. North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin 238: 1-264.
  • Esselbaugh CO. 1949. Notes on the bionomics of some Midwestern Pentatomidae. Entomologica Americana (n.s.) 28: 1-73.
  • Hayslip NE, Genung WG, Kelsheimer EG, Wilson JW. 1953. Insects attacking cabbage and other crucifers in Florida. Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Research Bulletin 534: 1-57.
  • Herrick NJ, Reitz SR. 2004. Temporal occurrence of Podisus maculiventris (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) in North Florida. Florida Entomologist 87: 587-590.
  • Hoffmann MP, Frodsham AC. 1993. Natural Enemies of Vegetable Insect Pests. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 63 pp.
  • Kirkland AH. 1896. Predaceous Hemiptera-Heteroptera, pp, 392-403. In Forbush EH, Fernald CH (eds.). The Gypsy Moth, Porthetria dispar (Linn.). Wright and Potter Printing Co., State Printers, Boston, Mass.
  • Mukerji MK, LeRoux EJ. 1965. Laboratory rearing of a Quebec strain of the pentatomid predator, Podisus maculiventris (Say) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Phytoprotection 46: 40-60.
  • Mukerji MK, LeRoux EJ. 1969a. The effect of predator age on the functional response of Podisus maculiventris to the prey size of Galleria mellonella. Canadian Entomologist 101: 314-327.
  • Mukerji MK, LeRoux EJ. 1969b. A quantitative study of food consumption and growth of Podisus maculiventris (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Canadian Entomologist 101: 387-403.
  • Mukerji MK, LeRoux EJ. 1969c. A study of energetics of Podisus maculiventris (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Canadian Entomologist 101: 449-460.
  • Richman DB, Whitcomb WH. 1978. Comparative life cycles of four species of predatory stink bugs (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Florida Entomologist 61: 113-119.
  • Stoner D. 1930. Spined soldier-bug reared on celery leaf-tyer. Florida Entomologist 14: 21-22.
  • Warren LO, Wallis G. 1971. Biology of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Journal of the Georgia Entomological Society 6: 109-116.
  • Whitcomb WH. 1973. Natural populations of entomophagous arthropods and their effects on the agroecosystem. Proceedings of the Mississippi Symposium of Biogical Control. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 150-169.

Spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris(Say) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), adult preying on cotton bollworm. Photo by W. Sterling.

Common Name: Spined soldier bug
Scientific Name: Podisus maculiventris (Say)
Order: Hemiptera

Description: Adults are vary in color from yellowish to pale brownish and are covered with small black specks. There is also a short black line on the wing tips which extends beyond the abdomen. A conspicuous spine on the middle of the front tibia may also be noticed. They are about 1/2-inch long. Eggs are metallic bronze.

This species may be confused with Euchistus species, which are common plant feeding stink bugs. The spined soldier bug has more acute spines on the edge of the pronotum.

Life Cycle: Eggs are laid in small clusters of 20-30 on leaves of plants. Immatures may be found clustered around the eggs shortly after they hatch. Young nymphs may feed on plant juices but later stages are predaceous. Each female may lay up to 1000 eggs. Adults may live for 5 to 8 weeks.

Spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), nymph preying on cotton square borer. Photo by W. Sterling.

Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: Prey include many kinds of caterpillars and grubs, especially those with few hairs. They are known to prey on larvae of the fall armyworm and the Colorado potato beetle.

Pest Status: This is one of the more prominent predatory stink bugs in North America.

For additional information, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent or search for other state Extension offices.

Literature: Slater and Baranowski 1978; Swann and Papp 1972.

Soldier Bugs
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A voracious predator, spined soldier bugs (Podisus maculiventris) prey on some of the most potentially-damaging grubs, caterpillars and soft-bodied insect pests including the European corn borer and corn earworm, Gypsy moth caterpillars, the cabbage looper and cabbage worm, flea beetles and Colorado potato beetles, fall armyworms and beet armyworms, the diamondback moth, the cotton boll worm and the Mexican bean beetle. Varying in color from brown to yellow and speckled with black spots, P. maculiventris is common throughout the United States.

Shop our large selection of biological controls, including spined soldier bugs, at Planet Natural. One vial — 250 eggs — treats up to 250 square feet and costs $159.95 with FedEx Overnight shipping included!

Highly mobile, adult soldier bugs will scurry or fly among plants to discover prey. They suck out their victims’ juices by penetrating it with its large, weapon-like proboscis. Adult female lay barrel-shaped egg clusters colored gray, cream or gold on stems and leaves, each cluster containing 20 to 30 eggs. Female will lay up to 1,000 eggs during their lifespan. Nymphs, which are predacious in four of their five stages, stay close to their egg clusters until they begin seeking prey of their own. Females can live five to eight weeks depending on conditions, males slightly longer. Because the spined soldier bug preys on nearly 100 different pests, it’s highly effective in both gardens and greenhouses.


  • Use 1-2 predators per square foot depending on pest infestation.
  • Dispense eggs evenly over plant leaves and as close to the pest problem as possible.
  • Do NOT release during the sunny part of the day, but rather wait until evening or early morning.
  • Eggs will hatch shortly after release and young nymphs will move quickly from plant to plant in search of food.

Note: P. maculiventris adults are highly mobile, and will spread rapidly throughout the release area by walking and flying.

How to Get Rid of Spined Soldier Bugs

Stink bug removal can be done by patching vulnerabilities in the home.

Things You Will Need


  • Wire mesh
  • Tight fitting screens
  • Caulking gun
  • 1/2 pack cigarettes (optional)
  • 1/2 gallon water (optional)
  • Detergent (optional)
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Light traps
  • Vacuum
  • Spray cleaner such as Mr. Clean (optional)
  • Bucket (optional)
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

Unfortunately, while spined stink bugs are great for deterring pests, they can wreak havoc in your home, where they retreat during colder parts of the year and remain until warmer weather returns.

  1. Inspect your interior and exterior cracks. Spined stink bugs will enter your home through any and all available cracks. During the summer season, when they’re outside, check your home exterior for cracks in the foundation, weep holes and attic cracks. Check windows, doorframes, ceiling fixtures and false ceiling walls during the winter months when they’re more than likely hiding within the walls of your home.

  2. Seal the interior and exterior of your home against any cracks and vulnerabilities you’ve found. Use wire mesh to patch weep holes, and apply tight-fitting screens to foundation and attic cracks. Seal windows and doors with a fully loaded caulking gun.

  3. Spray pesticides, such as nicotine water, on your plants and around your garden during spring to kill and repel stink bugs. Make nicotine water by steeping 1/2 pack of cigarettes in 1/2 gallon of lukewarm water. Allow the mixture to form for about 30 minutes before straining the water through cheesecloth to remove nicotine flakes. Add a tsp. of detergent and pour the mixture into a spray bottle.

  4. Place light traps in infested areas to attract and kill stink bugs. Move the traps to different areas when their effectiveness declines, as this simply means the stink bugs have relocated to another area of your home.

  5. Vacuum large hordes of stink bugs with a vacuum cleaner designated for this sole purpose. You can also fill a bucket of water halfway and mix it with equal parts of a commercial cleaner such as Mr. Clean. Put on rubber gloves and flick spined stink bugs into the soapy mixture. This penetrates their shells and kills them. You can also use a wet/dry shop vac to place the soapy mixture in and kill stink bugs as you vacuum them up.

Spined Soldier Bug Information: Are Spined Soldier Bugs Beneficial In The Garden

You may shudder to hear that spined soldier bugs (a type of stink bug) live in gardens around your home. But actually this is great news, not bad news. These predators are more effective than you are at reducing pests on your plants. These predator stink bugs are among the most common in the United States, as well as Mexico and Canada. Read on for more spined soldier bug information.

What are Spined Soldier Bugs?

What are spined soldier bugs, you may ask. And why is it good to have spined soldier bugs in gardens? If you read up on spined soldier bug information, you’ll find that these native North American insects are brown and about the size of a fingernail. They have prominent spines on each “shoulder” as well as on their legs.

The life-cycle of these predator stink bugs starts when they are eggs. Females lay between 17 and 70 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in a week or less into “instars,” the term used for this bug’s five immature stages. At this first stage, the instars are red and eat nothing at all. The color pattern changes as they mature.

They do eat other insects in the other four instar stages. It takes about a month for a newly hatched instar to develop into a mature adult. Adults overwinter in leaf litter to emerge again in early spring. Females lay some 500 eggs, beginning a week after they emerge.

Are Spined Soldier Bugs Beneficial?

Spined soldier bugs are generalist predators. They chow down over 50 different kinds of insects, including the larvae of both beetles and moths. These predator stink bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to grab prey and eat them.

Are spined soldier bugs beneficial to gardeners? Yes, they are. They are one of the best predator bugs for reducing pest populations in crops, especially fruit crops, alfalfaand soybeans.

While spined soldier bugs in gardens may occasionally suck on your plants in order to get a “drink,” this doesn’t harm the plant. Even better, they do not transmit disease.

Do Stink Bugs Bite or Sting?

What Are Stink Bugs, and Do They Bite?

Stink bugs vary in size, depending on species, and some U.S. species are large — almost 2 cm long. Adult stink bugs are almost as wide as they are long.

In the springtime, homeowners often find stink bugs walking up the walls or flying toward windows. And when the homeowner swats the bugs, they give off an unpleasant odor.

The species that is of most concern to homeowners is the brown marmorated stink bug, which is not likely to bite or sting. The stink bug’s mouthparts are grouped in the piercing/sucking category, but they do not use blood as a food source like mosquitoes, biting flies, and bed bugs.

Furthermore, their mouths aren’t structured in a way that enables them to pierce, sting, or bite through human skin.

In fact, most species of stink bugs feed on plants. They suck the juice from leaves, stems, and roots of plants. They attack everything from ornamental plants to weeds. The insects pierce the skin of the plant and extract the juice inside.

What Do Stink Bugs Eat?

These plant-feeding stink bugs also attack seeds, nuts, and fruit. They attack peaches, apples, tomatoes, green peppers, soybeans, and pecans.

They have even been found feeding on developing cotton. Stink bugs can be serious pests in farms, gardens, and orchards.

There are a few species of stink bugs that are predators, but they eat other insects. They eat harmful pests like caterpillars and even other stink bugs. These predatory stink bugs are beneficial because they help protect plants.

Controlling & Preventing Stink Bugs

Even though stink bugs do not normally bite people, they can be nuisances when they get into homes.

Many homeowners use a vacuum cleaner to remove stink bugs from the walls and windows of their homes. However, the bugs may cause the vacuum to have an unpleasant odor for a while.

Homeowners can help prevent stink bugs from invading by sealing openings that the bugs might use to get inside. Cracks around doors and windows can be sealed with caulk. Vents in crawl spaces and attics can be protected with screen. Weather stripping can be used to seal gaps under exterior doors.

When experiencing stink bugs in the home, contact a pest control professional who can select the most effective materials and develop a plan to combat the stink bugs.

Can Stink Bugs Bite People?

There are enough biting insects out there without having to worry about stink bug bites, but unfortunately, you may have to. Depending on the species, stink bugs bite when they are handled and feel threatened. The good news is that most species of stink bugs do not bite. For questions such as ‟do stink bugs bite,” the following answers will help clear up any confusion.

Do stink bugs bite people?

Stink bugs can bite people depending on the species. Some species, such as the brown marmorated stink bug, are physically incapable of biting humans. These stink bugs feed on the juices of leaves, stems, fruits, nuts and seeds. Their sole defense mechanism is the odor that comes from chemicals secreted through glands on their abdomen. This odor is thought to help keep predators away.

What types of stink bugs bite?

The types of stink bugs that may bite people are predator stink bugs (with a few exceptions, such as the kudzu bug, Megacopta cribraria, which feeds on plants but can bite humans). These predator species are actually beneficial to the environment, eating harmful pests in gardens, farms and orchards. They feed on caterpillars, other stink bugs and crop-specific pests such as the Mexican bean beetle and the Colorado potato beetle. If provoked, these stink bugs can inflict a harmless, but painful, bite. A stink bug’s bite has not been shown to cause or transmit any diseases or parasites, though it can result in a raised welt.

Can stink bugs cause any other type of bodily harm?

According to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, stink bugs have been shown to cause an allergic reaction in certain people who might be sensitive to the foul aeroallergen these bugs secrete. These chemicals come from the dorsal scent glands and can cause conjunctivitis, rhinitis or both. When stink bugs are crushed, if the bug’s fluids or chemicals come into contact with skin, dermatitis can occur.

How can I tell which stink bugs bite and which don’t?

Aside from learning how to tell approximately 260 species of stink bugs apart, the best way to avoid a stink bug bite is to not handle any of them. Preventing stink bugs from entering your home by sealing up points of entry is the best way to do this for most. For active gardeners and other agricultural workers, contact with bugs might be harder to avoid.

Don’t put up with stink bug bites or their smell. Call Terminix® if you have any bugs in your home and get your free pest estimate today.

Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris)

A gardener’s true ally, the Spined Soldier Bug guards fruits and vegetables from the destructive forces of plant eaters.

Adult and nymph forms of the Spined Soldier Bug look very different from each other. This may lead to the unfortunate removal of young ones from their habitat: fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Nymphs are round-bodied and small, coming in a variety of color variations depending on their age. Young ones are red and black. Older forms have short elytra (wing coverings) that may be brown with black edges, or completely black. The abdomen has orange-red center with black patches and yellow or white stripes crossing it. Adults are brown with black marks on the tips of the clear wings. A spine juts out of each ‘shoulder’. A long dagger-like extension at the face pierces insect prey.
The immensely varied diet of the Spined Soldier Bug includes many insects that harm plants. Armyworms, cabbageworms, bean and potato beetles, and other types of caterpillars and borers are all eaten, reducing their population sizes. Females lay small, round fertilized eggs on leaves. Many broods can be produced each year, helping gardens maintain a constant biological control for pest insects. A Spined Soldier Bug among fruits and vegetables is a welcome sight.

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