What Do Stink Bugs Eat? (Tomatoes, Corn and More!)

Have you ever wondered whether some kind of food in your house is attracting the stink bugs?

Maybe you're just plain curious about what these random bugs eat.

After all, they swarm around by the hundreds—sometimes thousands! Where can they possibly find enough food to keep their species alive?!

what do stink bugs eat

We've got the full scoop on how these insects get their fill. Keep reading to find out more!


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How Do Stink Bugs Eat?

Did you know that many insects have different methods of eating?

For instance, fruit flies don't intake food the same way that regular flies do. Stink bugs, also, have their own particular way of eating, and it affects which foods they like as well as where they'll choose to call home.

Needle-Like Mouth Parts

Instead of teeth like humans and animals have, insects are equipped with a mouth and a system of propulsion through which nutrients are carried. 

This is called the insect's "mouthparts." 

The stink bug's mouthparts consist of an appendage which pin-pricks like a needle and sucks up nutrients to the stink bug's head. The mouthparts of a stink bug work almost like a mix between a syringe and a straw. They pierce the outermost layer of the food item, then also act as a tube that carries the food into the bug's body.

what do stink bugs eat facts

What Do Stink Bugs Like To Eat?

Because of this setup, stink bugs tend to prefer foods that have a hard outer layer and a soft, somewhat mushy inside. 

More often than not, people will find that that the stink bugs which have overtaken their homes for the winter are drawn to the fruit bowl for stone fruits. These are classified as fruits that have pits in the middle like peaches and nectarines. 

Apples and pears, as well, are a top choice for stink bugs because of their hard outer flesh and softer, sweet inside (especially when overripe).

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Favorite Foods Of Stink Bugs

The brown marmorated stink bug is considered in many parts of the United States to be a highly invasive species—particularly in areas with a heavy reliance on agriculture as a means of economic stability.

To take a closer look at which crops are at risk from invasion by stink bugs, keep reading.


Because of the soft flesh on the inside of this fruit, it's a favorite for swarms of stink bugs in the wild.

They'll routinely scope out vines where tomatoes grow and pierce through the skin with the needle of their mouthparts, creating holes and bruises in the fruits. This, in turn, renders the tomatoes inedible, causing trouble for farmers.

In fact, there are tips and tricks especially designed to keep stink bugs off of tomato plants!

Check them out in the video below. 

Tree Fruits

Much like with tomatoes, stink bugs love to feed on the nutrients in fruits grown from trees because the saps from these fruits are sweeter than these bugs will find anywhere else.

Apples, peaches and pears—like tomatoes—bruise very easily and are often thrown away once found to be damaged by stink bugs. This costs farmers tremendously each seasons; especially if these same farmers have to dispose of other produce items also damaged by stink bugs!

Ears of Corn

In the wild, stink bugs tend to congregate on the outer husks of an ear of corn, feeding through the husk itself. 

They use their piercing mouth parts to suck the nutrients out of each individual kernel of corn on an ear, leaving wilted and shriveled kernels behind as they go. This means that before the corn is even harvested by the farmers growing it, it's being decimated within its husk.


Much like with the destruction to the corn kernels, a stink bug will use its mouth parts to puncture a soybean pod and extract digestive enzymes for nutrients.

The resulting injury to the soybean is deformation, bruising, improper growth, delayed leaf maturity, and shriveling. Farmers are forced to consider these affected soybeans as a loss to their yield, making stink bugs one of the top invasive pests in the country!

Stink Bug Diet Final Thoughts...

It's puzzling to see such a high population of insects and wonder where exactly they're getting their food supply, but wonder no more! 

The short answer: the same place as you and me. 

And as for your household fruits and vegetables, they are also fair game for invasive stink bugs if not properly stored and protected. As stink bug season ramps up, be sure to do yourself a favor and seal away all your produce—consider repellents as well!

Stink Bug Guide

Want to learn more about stink bugs? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

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