Not All Stink Bugs Are Troublesome

Usually when I mention the term ‘stink bug’ to producers, I can see that they get uncomfortable with this difficult-to-manage group of insect pests.  We have several common stink bug pest, including the green (Figure 1) and brown stink bugs (Figure 2). A number of counties east of I-65 are also beginning to experience the new invasive brown marmorated stink bug (Figure 3).

Figure 1. Brown stink bug. (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Figure 1. Brown stink bug. (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Figure 2. Green stink bug. (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Figure 2. Green stink bug. (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Figure 3. Brown marmorated stink bug . (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Figure 3. Brown marmorated stink bug . (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Beneficial Stink Bugs

But there are also beneficial stink bugs that are commonly found while monitoring fields for pests, including the spined soldier bug and the two-spotted stink bug.  These are predaceous stink bugs that assist by feeding on a number of pest insects.

The spined soldier bug (Figure 4) is our most common predatory stink bug in vegetable systems; it  will feed on a wide range of insect larvae and some adults.  It is commonly mistaken for a brown stink bug but has one very distinctive feature: a dark mark at the end of the transparent part of the front wings, giving it the appearance of a tail. In the absence of prey, spined soldier bug will feed on plants to a small extent, but it has never been associated economic injury.

Figure 4. A spined soldier bug feeding on another insect (note the dark marking on the tip of the front wings). (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Figure 4. A spined soldier bug feeding on another insect (note the dark marking on the tip of the front wings). (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

The other common predatory stink bug in vegetable systems is the two-spotted stink bug (Figure 5). This stink bug is black with either red or orange markings.  There are two prominent black spots behind the head. This stink bug primarily attacks the eggs and larvae of the Colorado potato beetle.

Figure 5. The two-spotted stink bug is recognized by the spots on the thorax behind the head. (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Figure 5. The two-spotted stink bug is recognized by the spots on the thorax behind the head. (Photo: Ric Bessin, UK)

Importance of Proper Identification

When scouting for pests, producers need to be able to distinguish these two beneficial stink bugs from those that cause damage. Otherwise, producers may use an insecticide needlessly to control the enemies of their vegetable pests.

 

Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist

 

Posted in Fruit