Updated: May 19, 2023

If you have ever encountered a stink bug, you may have wondered whether these insects are harmful to humans. Stink bugs are known for emitting a foul odor when threatened or crushed, but can they actually cause harm? In this article, we will explore the potential dangers of stink bugs to humans.

What are Stink Bugs?

Stink bugs, also known as shield bugs, are insects that belong to the family Pentatomidae. There are over 200 species of stink bugs in North America alone, and they are commonly found in gardens and agricultural fields. These insects are named for their distinctive odor, which is released as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened or disturbed.

Stink bugs vary in size and color, but most have a shield-shaped body that is brown or green in color. They have six legs and two antennae, and their mouthparts are designed for piercing and sucking plant juices.

Are Stink Bugs Harmful to Humans?

While stink bugs are not known to bite humans or transmit diseases, they can still pose a potential threat in certain situations. Here are some ways that stink bugs could be harmful to humans:

Allergic Reactions

Some people may have an allergic reaction to stink bug secretions. The odor released by stink bugs is produced by a chemical called trans-2-decenal, which can cause respiratory irritation in some individuals. This can lead to symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.

Skin Irritation

If stink bugs come into contact with your skin or eyes, they can cause irritation and redness. This is because their saliva contains enzymes that break down plant material and can irritate human skin.

Crop Damage

Stink bugs are considered pests in agricultural settings because they feed on crops such as soybeans, corn, and tomatoes. When stink bugs feed on crops, they can cause damage to the plant and decrease crop yields. This can have economic consequences for farmers and consumers.

How to Avoid Stink Bugs

If you want to avoid stink bugs and minimize the potential harm they can cause, there are several steps you can take:

Seal Cracks and Openings

Stink bugs can enter your home through small cracks and openings, so it’s important to seal these up to prevent infestations. Use caulking or weatherstripping to seal gaps around windows, doors, and utility pipes.

Use Screens

Make sure that your windows and doors are fitted with screens to prevent stink bugs from entering your home. You can also use mesh screens over vents and air intakes to keep stink bugs out.

Keep Your Home Clean

Stink bugs are attracted to food sources, so make sure that your kitchen is clean and free of crumbs or spilled food. Vacuum regularly and dispose of trash promptly to avoid attracting stink bugs.

Remove Infestations

If you do have a stink bug infestation in your home, it’s best to remove them as quickly as possible. You can vacuum up stink bugs with a hose attachment and dispose of them outside in a sealed container.


In conclusion, stink bugs are not typically harmful to humans, but they can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and crop damage in certain situations. By taking steps to avoid stink bugs and remove infestations, you can minimize the potential harm they can cause and enjoy a stink bug-free home.