Tag Archives: insects

The Secret Life of Stinkbugs

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Photo By David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ.

The stinkbug reached up with its front legs & grabbed its left antenna & stretched it, held it taught & let go.

Was it a bit of stinkbugian calisthenics? Or a sign of boredom, restlessness.

I guess I’ll never know.

(I actually started this post in the summer of 2011. The stink bug situation then was really bad where I wrote this –outside Charles Town, WV. I was reading one hot summer evening, and a stink bug — b-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-t! — hit the lamp nearby and fell to the table.  It then performed the show described above.)

Well, stinkbugs have been around big-time in the mid-Atlantic for a few years.    It’s now 2013, and I don’t think it has eased up at all.  This USA Today map from late 2012 characterized the stink bug infestation in our region as “severe agricultural and nuisance reports.”

So, what about those stretching exercises?

The Virginia Cooperative Extension’s “Field Guide to Stinkbugs” didn’t shed any light on this aspect; but it did provide some great pictures. (You should see the Harlequin’s [Murgantia histrionica] eggs! They’re actually quite pretty.)  But, there was nothing in the publication about the sort of behavior I witnessed that evening.

A stink bug feeds on fruit, tomatoes, vegetables, leaves, ornamental trees, butterfly bushes, even soybeans.  “There’s not a whole lot they don’t eat,” said Ray Eckhart, educator with the Penn State Extension in Franklin County.

That’s pretty much the extent of any discussion of stink bug behavior: the fact that they are the new deer in that they’ll eat anything.That and the fact that they are spreading.

I kept up my search.

  • Yes, the brown marmorated stink bug was first identified in the US in 2001.
  • It has no natural predators.
  • It is native to Asia.
  • “Attacked” fruit is safe to eat, although it’s a bit unsightly.
Brown marmorated stink bug resting after stretching.

Brown marmorated stink bug resting after stretching.

Still nothing about the behavior of that particular stink bug.  I guess I’ll never know exactly what it was doing that evening.  Perhaps a stinkbugian version of the arm stretch that accompanies yawns in humans? Yeah; that’s it.  It was late. He (or she) was tired from all that buzzing around all day, and just was ready to relax.

So, there you have it. Still no insight about the calisthenics described in the first paragraph if this post.  But, lest my searching be all for naught, I did find a recipe that uses 1/3 pound roasted stink bugs. Yeah, right! But, if you are so inclined, you can get the recipe here. (Go to the bottom of the page.)