Updated: June 8, 2023

Stink bugs are insects that belong to the family Pentatomidae. They are known for their distinct odor, which they release when they feel threatened or disturbed. Stink bugs come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. They are found all over the world, but their exact diet may vary depending on where they live.

General Diet of Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are plant feeders, and they primarily feed on a variety of plant materials, including leaves, fruits, flowers, and stems. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to pierce the plant tissue and suck the juices out. In general, stink bugs prefer to feed on plants that are in the fruiting stage or have ripened fruit.

Some of the most common plants that stink bugs feed on include:

  • Soybeans
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Corn
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Berries

However, stink bugs are not picky eaters and will feed on any available plant material. This makes them a common pest in agricultural fields and gardens.

Specific Diet of Stink Bugs

While stink bugs generally feed on plant materials, some species have specific dietary requirements. Here are some examples:

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a species that is native to Asia but has become an invasive species in North America and Europe. BMSBs primarily feed on fruit trees and crops such as apples, pears, peaches, cherries, raspberries, grapes, and soybeans.

Green Stink Bug

The green stink bug is a common species found in North America. It feeds on a variety of plants, including cotton, soybeans, corn, tomatoes, and peppers.

Southern Green Stink Bug

The southern green stink bug is another species commonly found in North America. It feeds on a variety of crops, including cotton, soybeans, tomatoes, and corn.

Harlequin Bug

The harlequin bug is a species found in North America that feeds on plants in the mustard family, including cabbage, kale, and broccoli. These bugs can cause serious damage to these crops if left unchecked.

Impact of Stink Bugs on Agriculture

Stink bugs are considered agricultural pests because they can cause significant damage to crops. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on plant tissues, which can result in stunted growth, reduced yields, and deformed fruits and vegetables.

Stink bugs can also transmit plant diseases through their feeding activities. As they move from plant to plant, they can spread pathogens that can cause wilting, yellowing, and other symptoms.

Controlling Stink Bugs

Controlling stink bugs can be challenging because they are mobile insects that can move quickly from one location to another. However, there are several methods that can be used to control stink bugs:

  • Physical removal: Handpicking stink bugs off plants and dropping them into soapy water is an effective method for controlling small populations.
  • Biological control: Certain predators, such as birds and spiders, feed on stink bugs and can help reduce their populations.
  • Chemical control: Insecticides can be used to control stink bug populations. However, care must be taken to ensure that the insecticide is safe for the crop being treated and does not harm beneficial insects or other non-target organisms.


Stink bugs are common agricultural pests that primarily feed on plant materials. While they are not picky eaters, some species have specific dietary requirements. Stink bugs can cause significant damage to crops and transmit plant diseases through their feeding activities. Controlling stink bug populations can be challenging but can be achieved through physical removal, biological control, and chemical control methods.