Have you ever wondered what stink bugs eat?
What do they consume and how can you avoid attracting them to your space?
And what foods should you avoid having in your home or your garden?
Stink bugs often don’t eat anything in your home because they are mostly dormant during the winter, but it is still a good idea not to put tempting foods around. If the bug wakes up early due to warm indoor temperatures, it might feed on your pantry supplies rather than head into the cold outdoors.
In this article we’ll show you:
- What stink bugs eat and what they don’t eat
- Whether stink bugs pose a threat to your houseplants
- Whether stink bugs can help with pest control in the home
- How they feed and why this is damaging
Do Stink Bugs Eat Plants?
Stink bugs eat parts of plants. Often, they go for the fruits, but they have been known to attack stems and leaves too, and they are very damaging to plants.
They will eat many different kinds, including ornamental plants if they happen to be residing in your garden and that is what they can find.
Stink bugs are outside for most of the year, so it’s worth knowing what they eat outdoors.
If you grow any of your own food, you are more likely to have stink bugs near your property, and this may result in them traveling indoors as the weather gets colder and outdoor food supplies dry up.
Stink bugs are a big problem for a lot of food growers, and they will eat a wide range of different crops.
- and mustard.
They will also eat a wide range of ornamental plants so even if you aren’t growing food crops, you may find that they are infesting your garden and taking over your outdoor spaces.
Having a lot of stink bugs around outside inevitably leads to a much greater chance of them moving into your home when it gets cold.
If you have stink bugs in the garden, you should tackle them before winter comes.
They are an invasive species and can be extremely damaging to crops in the US, so it is a good idea to get rid of them if you can.
If you grow your own food, you’ll see firsthand the damage they can cause.
One of the best ways to manage a stink bug population into your garden is to cut back weeds and grasses, which is where these bugs breed.
Their young feed on these before moving into the farming fields, and getting rid of them will help to reduce the number of stink bugs because they won’t be able to breed as fast or effectively.
Their favorite foods tend to be stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, and plums, so it’s a good idea to keep these in sealed containers or not buy them during the autumn, which is when stink bugs are most likely to move into your home.
Do Stink Bugs Eat Aphids?
Some kinds of stink bugs eat aphids, yes. These are predatory stink bugs that feed on other insects, rather than on plants or fruits.
They will predate many different kinds of insects, including aphids, so if you have an aphid infestation, these stink bugs are important to encourage.
Like the fruit-eating insects, rough stink bugs (the predatory kind) pierce their prey and suck out their juices, killing them.
A rough stink bug can kill plenty of pest species, and they are known for hunting caterpillars, aphids, beetles and their larvae, and other soft-bodied insects.
Rough stink bugs look similar to the pest kind, which can be annoying if you’re trying to tell them apart.
However, the predatory kind has spiny shoulders and a rough-looking texture, while the pest stink bugs are smoother.
Do Stink Bugs Eat Tomatoes?
Yes, stink bugs love tomatoes in particular.
You might be wondering why these are considered one of their top favorite foods, and the answer is partly due to the way in which a stink bug feeds.
They have a general preference for foods with hard exteriors and soft, juicy centers.
Why is this?
The answer is that these foods suit their feeding method. Stink bugs have needle-like mouthparts, and they like to thrust these through the harder exterior so that they can drink up the soft juices within.
The mouth of the stink bug works something like a syringe combined with a straw.
The syringe part plunges through the outer skin of the food, and then the insect can suck up the juices inside, feeding on the softer, richer parts of the fruit or vegetable.
This leads to their preference for soft centered foods, because they can’t suck up food with hard centers, so it is not a viable food source for them.
If you have any soft fruits in your home during winter, you may find that these attract stink bugs, so it’s a good idea to avoid them or seal them away.
Do Stink Bugs Eat House Plants?
It’s unlikely that stink bugs will bother your house plants while indoors.
Although stink bugs do feed on plant juices, they do not often bother to eat once they have moved inside.
They are used to winter food stocks being extremely scarce, both in the US and in Asia, which is their native country.
They therefore build up their fuel supplies in fall, ready for the winter, much as hibernating mammals do.
This means that they instinctively stop foraging for food and may not eat anything throughout the whole winter.
They should then move back outside, leaving your house plants alone – although your garden plants may suffer from their presence!
Do Stink Bugs Eat Other Bugs?
Yes, predatory stink bugs will eat other bugs. As with the aphids already mentioned, rough stink bugs predate soft-bodied bugs that they can stab and drink from.
They will even eat other stink bugs if they come across them, and may be a great means of pest control, as they seem particularly keen to devour their nuisance cousins.
You might observe rough stink bugs getting rid of all kinds of bugs from your home, including things like flies, ladybugs, caterpillars, and other kinds of insects.
Equally, they are predated on by some insects, such as assassin bugs.
Do Stink Bugs Eat Spiders?
No, stink bugs do not eat spiders as far as we know. Spiders, however, will happily eat stink bugs if they can catch them – and they often do catch them in their webs. I
f you have a problem with a stink bug infestation, spiders are your friends, but this won’t work the other way around.
Do Stink Bugs Eat Squash Plants?
Yes, stink bugs will attack and eat squash plants and they are a massive problem for both commercial growers and hobbyists growing the plants in their own gardens.
Zucchinis are particularly popular with stink bugs.
Squashes present the perfect kind of food for stink bugs. Remember that they prefer foods with hard skins and soft centers, and that is exactly the sort of food that a squash plant provides.
The stink bugs can thrust their needle-like mouthparts through the skin and drink the juices from the squash.
Unfortunately, the insertion of the needle is followed by the injection of a small amount of saliva into the squash. This saliva is toxic to the plant and causes the zucchinis to develop scars.
This makes crops both unsaleable and unappealing (who wants to eat bug saliva!) and it increases the chances of bacteria or diseases entering the food.
You may find that zucchinis that have been attacked by stink bugs get attacked by a succession of other insects too.
The bugs usually go for the fruit, but they may attack the plant as well, and they will eat other squash plants as well as zucchinis.
They may even eat cucumbers, although these tend to be less popular with them.
Do Stink Bugs Eat Spider Mites?
Stink bugs might eat spider mites in some circumstances, but they may find them too small to prey on.
Remember that spider mites are minute little creatures, and a stink bug needs to be able to insert its needle into its prey and suck nutrients from its body.
It is unlikely that spider mites would prove a worthwhile meal to a stink bug, and they are probably too small to be effectively stabbed with the needle-like part of the stink bug’s mouth.
On the whole, it seems unlikely that stink bugs will solve a spider mite problem; they will probably just move elsewhere to look for food.
Do Stink Bugs Eat Leaves?
Stink bugs do eat leaves in a way, but they do not snip the leaves away from the plant with jaws as many plant munchers do.
Instead, they again pierce the leaf with their sharp needle, and suck the rich sap from within the plant.
This might not sound so bad, as the plant at least retains its leaves, but unfortunately, this sort of feeding tends to leave ugly scars on the surface of the leaf.
It is also worth remembering that the damage can encourage other pests or introduce disease and bacteria.
Stink bugs rarely attack plants in large numbers, so they are unlikely to kill a plant, but they can still do large amounts of damage to it.
This is very frustrating if you are trying to grow ornamental plants in your garden, and you find them consistently savaged by stink bugs feeding on their sap.
The loss of sap will weaken the plant and stunt its growth, especially if it loses a lot. If you have a stink bug infestation, the leaves may end up distorted from the injury, and pierced leaves are more vulnerable to sun-scorching.
While stink bugs aren’t the most damaging pest you can encounter in terms of plant consumption, they are a very frustrating and fairly destructive one, so you should take measures to get them out of your garden as quickly as you can.
This will have the added advantage of reducing the chances of them coming inside during the winter, too!
Conclusion: What Do Stink Bugs Eat?
Stink bugs eat a wide range of foods. The pest species target plants and food crops, causing massive problems in the commercial industry and for hobbyist gardeners.
Try to avoid having thick skinned, soft centered fruits and vegetables in your home, especially during the autumn and the winter.
If you want to learn more about ants and various other insects, then checkout some of our hand selected articles:
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