Are Stink Bugs Poisonous? – Well, It’s Complicated

If you’ve ever seen a stink bug in your home or you are currently dealing with a stink bug infestation, you might be wondering – are stink bugs poisonous?

Do you need to worry about being bitten by one of this creepy crawlies, or are you safe from harm? Many people dislike stink bugs and don’t want them around for obvious reasons.

Stink bugs are not poisonous, but they might be an irritant to a dog or cat that decided to eat one. Some stink bugs are also able to bite, and although the bite is not poisonous, it is painful!

However, for many stink bugs, their only defense is the foul smell that they release when crushed.

In this article, we are going to look at:

  • Whether stink bugs are poisonous and why this isn’t as straightforward as it might seem
  • What would happen if you ate a stink bug
  • Whether any stink bugs are venomous
  • Whether any of their relatives are poisonous
  • Why stink bugs have not evolved venom or poison as a defense

Are Any Stink Bugs Poisonous?

No stink bugs are known to be either poisonous or venomous, at least directly. However, although that might sound simple, it isn’t quite as clear cut as that, because the stinky liquid that a stink bug emits could potentially be an irritant.

To be clear, a stink bug is not considered a venomous creature, and if one were to bite you, you would not need to rush to the hospital for an antidote.

These insects are rarely thought of as threatening, and they are very unlikely to do you any harm.

However, they are not simply “not poisonous” because the liquid they secrete is a potential irritant, and some kinds of stink bugs are able to bite hard enough to pierce human flesh.

That means that if a stink bug bit you and managed to get some of its smelly liquid secretions into the wound, you might experience a burning sensation around the bite.

It is unlikely that this would be prolonged, but in some cases, your body might react, in which case you should seek urgent medical treatment.

Some species of stink bugs also cause allergic reactions just via their liquid, even if it doesn’t come into contact with an open wound.

The brown marmorated stink bug, which is considered an invader in the USA, is one such bug, and you should avoid contact with any secretions from this insect, as they could harm you.

If you do get stink bug “venom” on you for any reason, it is best to wash the affected area with soap and warm water immediately and keep an eye on it.

If you start to react, get in contact with medical professionals for advice and treatment.

What Would Happen If You Ate A Stink Bug?

While you are unlikely to go around eating stink bugs, you might be wondering what the potential consequence of doing so could be. This may be a particular worry if you have a cat or dog that is prone to picking up and eating insects.

Because stink bugs aren’t poisonous, your pet is not likely to suffer from any long term ill effects as a result of eating one.

However, the brown marmorated stink bug may cause mouth irritation and swell as a result of the venom in its body. They may also irritate the pet’s gastrointestinal tract, leading to discomfort and misery.

The pet’s tongue, lips, gums, and inner mouth may show signs of inflammation and irritation if they come into contact with stink bug secretions, and you should not let your pet eat stink bugs if at all avoidable. They will suffer if they try and do so.

Similarly, stink bugs should not be eaten by people. Keep any children that you have away from these insects, and clean up secretions that you find quickly – not just because of the smell!

You don’t want your child touching these and then putting their fingers in their mouths.

While no major harm will be done, this can lead to distress and swelling, or even vomiting.

Keep pets and children away from stink bugs, and always thoroughly wash your hands if you have had to deal with them or the liquid that they secrete.

In a way, therefore, stink bugs can be considered both venomous and poisonous, but it is so minor that they are rarely counted as being either one. Their “venom” can cause irritation, and eating one causes exposure to this venom, making them both venomous and poisonous on a small scale.

Are Any Stink Bugs Venomous?

You are probably already aware that there are multiple kinds of stink bugs, and that might leave you wondering whether any of them are venomous.

The brown marmorated stink bug is probably the one in possession of the most irritating venom, but none of these bugs are particularly venomous.

If you are unfortunate enough to encounter a biting variety and get bitten, it is a good idea to thoroughly wash the site and check on it regularly afterwards.

Minor swelling is normal, but itchiness, hot skin, or serious pain should be reported to a medical authority promptly to get proper advice.

No stink bugs are truly venomous, but it is best to be cautious and not run the risk of having a bad reaction to a stink bug’s secretions or its bite.

Do Stink Bug Bites Hurt?

It is very normal for a stink bug bite to be a bit painful, yes. Some varieties have very powerful jaws for such small creatures, and they can bite hard.

However, it is quite rare to be bitten by stink bugs unless they feel trapped. Usually, these insects prefer to try and run away. They will not attack you for no reason, so you are unlikely to get bitten by one in normal circumstances.

If you end up with a bug in your clothing, it might bite you in self-defense because it won’t easily be able to run away, but usually, stink bugs will retreat rather than attack a much larger creature.

Even a cat or a child will not get bitten in most circumstances unless they actively pick up the stink bug and stop it from being able to retreat.

Do not handle stink bugs with your bare hands. If you need to pick one up, wear gloves and use a container of some sort.

You should then be able to transfer the bug outside your home and away if necessary. This will reduce the chances of you getting bitten.

Are Any Stink Bug Relations Venomous?

You might be wondering whether any other insects that are closely related to stink bugs are venomous or poisonous. Often, people misidentify other insects with stink bugs, because they can look quite similar, and this may lead to confusion about the poison or venom aspect.

Assassin bugs are a common insect that frequently gets misidentified as stink bugs. Some kinds of assassin bugs, such as wheel bugs, are capable of biting humans and will do so if a human attempts to handle them.

These bugs can bite hard and will inflict a very painful injury. They are also not venomous, but their bites hurt a great deal and if you get bitten by one, you may wish to get it checked out.

If the injury site swells or causes any signs of anaphylactic shock or breathing issues, you should call emergency medical services immediately.

It’s a good idea to spend a bit of time learning to identify the differences between stink bugs and other similar looking insects, especially if you think you have them near your home.

Look at the differences so you can more easily identify the insects, and avoid handling any insect that you do not recognize as safe.

You should also make efforts to wear gloves when gardening, or if you need to pick up any insect intruders in your home. This will reduce your risk of getting bitten.

Why Aren’t Stink Bugs Venomous?

It’s hard to say why any insect has not evolved venom, but it’s likely because the smell of a stink bug has been enough to deter most of its potential predators in the past. If you have ever experienced this smell, you will be well aware of how stink bugs earned their name!

Because they smell so bad, many creatures avoid them. This is similar to a skunk’s defense system, deterring predators and keeping the insect safe in most cases.

As it can also cause irritation to the mouth, it serves a double purpose, and perhaps counts as a kind of venom.

Stink bugs are not directly poisonous, but they can cause irritation if eaten. While they are unlikely to do major harm even if they bite you, they should be handled with care, and you shouldn’t let pets or small children near them.

Last piece of advice : venemous or not

If you have to handle a stink bug, it’s best to wear gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:

What Are Stink Bugs Good For? 7 Things You Didn’t Know

11 Plants That Repel Stink Bugs
Do Stink Bugs Go in Your Bed? 3 Signs Everyone Should Know

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

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