Updated: June 9, 2023

Stink bugs, also known as shield bugs, are an invasive species that have become a nuisance to homeowners and farmers in many parts of the world. They are notorious for their unpleasant odor when disturbed or crushed, and they can cause significant damage to crops and gardens. Stink bugs are becoming increasingly common in many areas, and it’s important to understand how they spread in order to prevent infestations. In this article, we’ll explore the ways in which stink bugs spread and what you can do to control their populations.

What are stink bugs?

Stink bugs are insects that belong to the family Pentatomidae. They are native to Asia but have spread to other parts of the world, including North America and Europe. There are many different species of stink bugs, but the most common ones found in North America are the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) and the green stink bug (Chinavia hilaris).

Stink bugs are called shield bugs because of their distinctive shape. They have a shield-like body that is typically brown or green in color. Adult stink bugs are about 1/2 inch long and can fly, which makes them difficult to control.

How do stink bugs spread?

Stink bugs can spread in several ways, including natural dispersal, human activity, and transportation.

Natural dispersal

Stink bugs are capable of flying long distances, which allows them to move from one area to another. They can also walk or crawl short distances, which means they can easily move from one plant or crop to another. Stink bugs reproduce quickly, which means that a small infestation can quickly turn into a large population if left unchecked.

Human activity

Humans can unintentionally spread stink bugs by transporting them on clothing or equipment. For example, if you work in a field that has stink bugs, they may hitch a ride on your clothes or shoes and be transported to another location. Similarly, if you purchase plants or produce that have stink bugs on them, you could be introducing them into your home or garden.


Stink bugs can also be transported over long distances via commercial transportation methods, such as trucks and trains. They may hitch a ride on shipments of produce or other goods and be transported to new areas where they can become established.

How to control stink bug populations

Controlling stink bug populations can be challenging, but there are several methods that have proven to be effective.

Physical barriers

One way to prevent stink bugs from entering your home or garden is to use physical barriers. Seal cracks and gaps around doors, windows, and other entry points to prevent stink bugs from getting inside. You can also use fine mesh screens on windows and doors to keep stink bugs out.

Remove food sources

Stink bugs are attracted to certain types of plants, so removing those plants from your garden can help to reduce their populations. You can also remove fallen fruit and other debris from around trees and plants to eliminate potential food sources.


Pesticides can be effective at controlling stink bug populations, but they should be used with caution. Always read the label instructions carefully and follow them closely. Use pesticides only as a last resort and choose products that are specifically labeled for stink bug control.

Natural predators

Several natural predators feed on stink bugs, including birds, spiders, and assassin bugs. Encouraging these predators in your garden can help to control stink bug populations naturally.


Stink bugs are a common pest that can cause significant damage to crops and gardens. They are capable of spreading rapidly, which makes it important to understand how they spread in order to prevent infestations. By taking steps to control stink bug populations, you can protect your home and garden from these pesky insects.