Stinkbug, the common name for a family of insects. There are thousands of species, found in most parts of the world. Stinkbugs are so named because they secrete a foul-smelling liquid that is repulsive to most predators. Most stinkbugs are dull in color, usually gray or brown, but some are such colors as black (often with red or orange markings), green, or blue. They generally range from 1/4 to 1/2 an inch (6 to 13 mm) in length. Some species are serious pests of such crops as cotton and cabbage; others are beneficial because they feed on other harmful insects. One of the best-known North American species, the harlequin cabbage stinkbug, is destructive to plants of the mustard family.
A stinkbug gives off a very bad smell if it is bothered. The smell comes from a stinky liquid that flows from two glands on the bug’s thorax. Once released, the odor remains on whatever the stink bug touches. To most predators, a stinkbug tastes as bad as it smells. Many birds spit out stinkbugs right after biting into them. However, other birds don’t seem to mind a stinkbug’s taste.
Most kinds of stinkbugs suck the juices of plants. Some kinds suck the body fluids of insects. Others feed on both plants and insects. Plant-sucking stinkbugs feed on the juices of young fruits and seeds. Some also suck the sap from plants as well as the nectar from flowers. Green stinkbugs often suck on crops like soybeans, rice, and tomatoes.
Some stinkbugs can greatly damage a farmer’s crops. But others can be helpful to farmers. The helpful stinkbugs kill other insects that do more harm to plants than they do themselves. Such insects include certain types of beetles and caterpillars and even some other stinkbugs.