Do Stink Bugs Bite?

Have you noticed an increasing number of brown and grey shield-shaped insects around your home? Do these bugs leave a foul odor behind after being killed? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you most likely have a stink bug problem.

Stink Bug Basics

The stink bug, also known as the shield bug, is an invasive species introduced to the U.S. from parts of Asia in the 1990s. You’ll find these pests on many farmers and gardeners’ most-hated bugs lists. There are over 200 species of stink bug in North America, but the most common species is the brown marmorated stink bug.

Stink bugs have glands located around the lower abdominal area, which only emit a foul-smelling odor when they feel threatened or nervous. You’ll definitely smell this if you squash them because when you squash a stink bug, you also squash their defensive stink gland sacs.

There is no need to worry, though. The brown marmorated stink bug is an annoying insect, but it can’t hurt us! 

During the rest of this article, we’ll be answering the following stink bug questions:

  • Do stink bugs bite?
  • Where do they prefer to live? 
  • Why do they stink?
  • How can I protect my garden, farm, and home from this funky bug?

Do Stink Bugs Bite?

This is one of the most frequently asked stink bug questions.

Yes, some species of stink bug can bite humans. But most stink bugs don’t bite. It’s much more likely for them to get scared and spray their defensive liquid into the air and onto us than for them to bite us. They can’t harm us and they aren’t a threat to pets either.

While we won’t be greatly affected by these annoying bugs, they can cause a minor allergic reaction. Minor skin irritation and a slight runny nose are the worst allergic reactions to stink bugs. People who are allergic to them only experience those reactions if they touch a smashed stink bug.

Simply smelling their odor can cause this reaction, too. But, if you touch an uncrushed stink bug, you’ll be fine. It’s the odor and the liquid that specifically comes from the stink bug’s gland that you could be allergic to.

The Perfect Stink Bug Environment

During the warmer seasons, stink bugs prefer to live in fruit, vegetable, and soy fields. They also enjoy typical home gardens. The brown marmorated stink bug mostly feeds on plants, leaves, and fruit. Some stink bugs eat pests, which farmers and environmentalists love because they reduce the number of agricultural pests. Brown marmorated stink bugs don’t protect fields, though. They’re one of the species that destroy many farmers’ crops.

When the cold weather starts to arrive, these annoying bugs will try to move in with us. Our homes are warm and filled with delicious food and plants, making them everything that a stink bug could hope for. So, unless you’re a true insect lover, we completely understand why they might annoy you or gross you out.

How To Protect Your Farm and Garden

If you’re a farmer or a gardener, we understand why you might want to get rid of this bug. After all, they’re notorious for destroying precious fruit, resulting in a lesser yield and lost revenue. The only good news regarding their plant-devouring tendencies is that their bite and saliva are only harmful to plants. If you eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable that a stink bug has bitten, you won’t get sick.

Below is a list of things you can do to protect your fields and gardens from this pesky bug.

Keep tall grass, brambles, and weeds to a minimum

Stink bugs love to shelter in tall grass during bad weather. Tall grass offers them simultaneous warmth and nutrients. If we were stink bugs, we’d want to stay near gardens that provide a safe and nutritional atmosphere, too.

Install a bunch of stink bug traps

There are various stink bug traps out there. Some are sticky traps while others use special lights or scents. Be sure to check these traps frequently so that they don’t fill up and become useless. Bug traps do an excellent job. But, depending on the area that you live in, you might have to set up several traps and replace them more frequently than in other areas.

Set a bug net up over your fields and gardens

Bug nets will keep most medium- to large-sized bugs from accessing your precious fruit, veggies, and other beautiful plants.

Use a safe, FDA-approved pesticide on your gardens and fields

If you’re not claiming that your fruit and veggies are organic or all natural, this might be one of the easiest solutions! Just make sure to completely follow all the directions and safety precautions that come with the pesticide.

Protecting Your Home From Invasion

We understand wanting to keep your house to yourself, your loved ones, and your pets!

So, we highly recommend that you start checking your home’s foundations for any cracks in the late summer or early fall. Also, make sure that every window and the door seals properly. If you already have some stink bugs in your house, a great way to get rid of them is by vacuuming them up. You can then boil some cinnamon on the stove to get rid of any stink bug odor.

In general, the brown marmorated stink bug is an insect that’s harmless to us. The only things they destroy are plants. They won’t bite you and they aren’t toxic to us.


Rory McCarthy

Can shield bugs damage small to medium fir trees?


    I’ve never heard about them damaging fir trees or any evergreen for that matter. So I would assume they can’t. Also, are you sure you’re not dealing with pine seed bugs instead? Their diet does include the sap. However, they are not very likely to cause actual damage to the tree.

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