What's in a name?
We all know that these pesky bugs are called "stink bugs," but does the name hold any factual weight?
Do these bugs ACTUALLY stink, or is the namesake just a myth?
Keep reading to find out!
Do Stink Bugs Stink?
Yes, stink bugs definitely stink.
The smell comes from a a chemical the stink bug emits from its abdomen when it senses danger from birds, lizards, or other predators (like annoyed humans!).
Even being near the bug can sometimes trigger the nasty smell as it tried to ward off whatever animal comes near it.
This smell also triggers other nearby stink bugs to flea as a signal danger is near.
Obviously squishing the bug will result in said odor as well...
But WHY Do Stink Bugs Stink? (3 Reasons)
It may sound cliché, but the stink bug relies heavily on smells and scents in order to survive.
By producing a few key pheromones, this insect can perform a number of features and advance its species—totally without the use of teeth or violent behavior!
Stink bugs produce three pheromones:
- Useful Pheromones
- Aggregation Pheromones
- Death Stench Pheromone
Male stink bugs emit certain pheromones in order to attract female mates. This isn't groundbreaking science; it happens throughout the animal kingdom.
What's interesting about stink bugs in particular is that not just females are attracted to this pheromone; males as well as nymphs can also respond!
And, if this wasn't surprising enough, stink bugs from other species can even smell this pheromone and feel lured in!
When stink bugs find a suitable place to live or a stockpile of food, they release a high-powered chemical known as an aggregation pheromone.
This alerts a swarm of other stink bugs to a certain area to feed and take shelter. Most commonly, this is the horrible smell associated with these invasive bugs, particularly on farms and in fields where the insects decimate crops.
The Stench of Death Pheromone
If you've ever made the mistake of squishing a wayward stink bug that ran your way, you can probably remember the squalid stench that followed.
Stink bugs produce a pheromone when they're injured or dying: a pungent odor which works to ward off predators and alert other stink bugs to the presence of the danger.
This smell acts as their first, last, and only line of defense. Seeing as how brown marmorated stink bugs don't have teeth and can't bite you or your pet, this is the method they use to protect themselves!
So, What Do Stink Bugs Smell Like?!
Well, this can really depend on who you ask, but there are a few common descriptions.
Because of the chemical compositions which make up the pheromones in a stink bug's spray are similar to the chemical makeup of cilantro, many people claim that stink bugs smell like this herb.
However, many people compare the stink of a stink bug to that of a skunk's spray: pungent and wild—and, most notably, almost impossible to wash out!
One thing is clear, though: no matter what it smells like, everyone pretty much agrees. Stink bugs absolutely do stink!
Final Thoughts About Stink Bug Smells
Much like skunks, stink bugs understand that sometimes, smelling offensively awful truly can be the best defense.
If you manage to see a stink bug rolling around you home or garden, be sure to tread carefully—squishing these bugs may release more of a "gift" than you bargained for!
Other Stink Bug Guides
Curious about other stink bug articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.