- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Ever wonder why the stink bug stinks?
The stink bug, from the family Pentamodae, is a shield-shaped insect that tomato growers would love to ban from the face of this earth.
Some 50 species exist in California. The adults are either brown or green. Most stink bugs are plant feeders. However, the species of one subfamily prey on other insects, according to the excellent guidebook, California Insects, written by Jerry A. Powell and Charles L. Hogue and published by the University of California Press.
When a group of us from the UC Davis Department of Entomology worked the soil today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central UC Davis campus, we encountered several lizards, lots of centipedes and ladybeetles, and several stink bugs.
So, how did the stink bug get its name? It stinks when it's disturbed. It emits a powerful odor from its thoracic glands to ward off predators.
The stink bugs we unearthed didn't stink. Guess we didn't disturb them enough!