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Green Stink Bugs

Green Stink Bugs

What Are Green Stink Bugs?

Green stink bugs, scientifically known as Nezara viridula, are a species of true bug belonging to the family Pentatomidae. These stink bugs are commonly found in various parts of North and South America, as well as in other regions around the world. Here is an overview of green stink bugs:

Appearance: Green stink bugs are typically green in color, which helps them blend into vegetation. They have a shield-shaped body, with distinctive triangular scutellum, and antennae. Adult green stink bugs can grow to be around 12-15 mm (0.5-0.6 inches) in length.

Habitat: Green stink bugs are adaptable insects and can be found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, agricultural fields, and natural environments. They are commonly associated with plants, as they feed on plant sap and fruits, making them both agricultural pests and a nuisance to gardeners.

Diet: These insects are phytophagous, meaning they feed on plant matter. Their diet primarily consists of fruits, vegetables, and the sap from a wide range of plants. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to puncture plant tissues and extract juices, causing damage to crops.

Life Cycle: Green stink bugs undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with egg, nymph, and adult stages. They lay clusters of small, barrel-shaped eggs on plant stems or leaves. Nymphs go through several molts, gradually growing in size and developing into adult stink bugs. They reproduce during the warm months of the year.

Behavior: Green stink bugs are known for their distinctive odor, which they emit when threatened or disturbed. This defensive odor serves as a deterrent to predators. They are also capable of flight and can disperse to new feeding sites or breeding areas.

Economic Impact: Green stink bugs can be detrimental to agricultural crops, as they feed on a wide range of plants, including soybeans, cotton, and various fruits and vegetables. Their feeding can cause cosmetic damage to fruits and reduce crop yields, making them a significant pest for farmers.

Control: Integrated pest management (IPM) practices are often used to control green stink bug populations. This may include the use of insecticides, the introduction of natural predators, and cultural practices such as crop rotation and the use of trap crops to divert stink bugs away from valuable crops.

Green stink bugs are agricultural pests that feed on plants by piercing them and extracting their juices. They are known for their green color, distinctive odor, and can be a significant problem for farmers and gardeners. Effective management strategies are essential to control their populations and minimize the damage they can cause to crops.

What Do Green Stink Bugs Look Like?

Green stink bugs, scientifically known as Nezara viridula, are distinctive in their appearance. Here is what green stink bugs look like:

  • Size and Shape: Green stink bugs are typically about 12-15 mm (0.5-0.6 inches) in length. They have a flattened, shield-shaped body with a slightly elongated, oval outline. Their body shape is often likened to that of a medieval knight's shield.
  • Color: As the name suggests, green stink bugs are primarily green in color. However, the specific shade of green can vary among individuals, ranging from a bright, vibrant green to a more muted or yellowish-green. This green coloration helps them camouflage among leaves and vegetation.
  • Markings: They may have varying patterns or markings on their bodies, but a common feature is a triangular scutellum, which is a distinctively shaped shield-like structure on their backs, covering the wings. This scutellum is usually bordered by alternating light and dark bands or stripes. The outer edges of their wings may also have subtle patterns.
  • Antennae: Green stink bugs have long, slender antennae that extend from their heads. These antennae are segmented and are often visible when looking closely at the insect.
  • Legs: Their legs are relatively long and slender, which aids in their mobility. They have three pairs of legs, like most insects.
  • Wings: Green stink bugs have well-developed wings, which are folded flat over their bodies when at rest. These wings are used for flying, although they are not strong fliers and typically fly short distances.
  • Mouthparts: They possess piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to puncture plant tissues and feed on the sap or juices of plants. These mouthparts are typically not easily visible without close examination.
  • Odor Gland: Another distinctive feature is their odor gland, which is located on their abdomen. When threatened or handled, they can emit a foul-smelling odor as a defense mechanism.

Green stink bugs are medium-sized insects with a shield-shaped body that is primarily green in color, often with distinct markings. They have long antennae, three pairs of legs, wings for flying, and a recognizable triangular scutellum on their backs. Their green coloration and shield-like shape make them stand out, especially when they are seen on plants and vegetation.

Where Are Green Stink Bugs Found?

Green stink bugs (Nezara viridula) can be found in various locations, as they are adaptable insects that are associated with plants. Their distribution can span both agricultural and natural environments. Here are some places where you might encounter green stink bugs:

  • Agricultural Fields: Green stink bugs are often found in agricultural settings. They can infest a variety of crops, including soybeans, cotton, corn, and various fruits and vegetables. Farmers and agricultural workers commonly encounter them in fields where these crops are grown.
  • Gardens: Home gardeners may also encounter green stink bugs in their gardens, especially if they grow vegetables, fruits, or ornamental plants. Stink bugs can be particularly bothersome in gardens as they feed on plant sap and fruits, causing damage to the crops.
  • Orchards: Orchards that grow fruits like apples, peaches, and pears are susceptible to green stink bug infestations. The bugs can damage the fruits by piercing the skin and feeding on the juice.
  • Natural Habitats: Green stink bugs are not restricted to cultivated areas. They can also be found in natural habitats, such as woodlands, grasslands, and meadows. Here, they may feed on wild plants and shrubs.
  • Weedy Areas: Stink bugs are known to inhabit weedy areas, especially if these areas have suitable host plants for feeding and reproduction. Weeds can provide an ideal habitat for them.
  • Residential Areas: In urban and suburban environments, green stink bugs may occasionally find their way into residential neighborhoods. They can be seen on shrubs, trees, and garden plants.
  • Overwintering Sites: In colder regions, green stink bugs seek shelter during the winter. They may congregate in large numbers in protected locations such as buildings, sheds, or other structures to overwinter. This is when people often notice them inside their homes.
  • Transported Goods: In some cases, green stink bugs can be inadvertently transported from one location to another in shipments of agricultural products or other goods. They may then establish themselves in new areas.

Green stink bugs are plant-feeding insects, and their presence is primarily linked to the availability of host plants. Their habitat can vary depending on the life stage and the time of year. While they may not be harmful to humans, they can be considered agricultural pests due to the damage they cause to crops. Effective pest management practices are often employed in agricultural settings to control their populations.

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Green Stink Bug Life Cycle

The life cycle of green stink bugs (Nezara viridula) consists of several stages, including egg, nymph, and adult. These insects undergo incomplete metamorphosis, meaning that their immature stages, known as nymphs, resemble the adults but are smaller and go through a series of molts before reaching maturity. Here is an overview of the life cycle of green stink bugs:

  • Egg Stage: Female green stink bugs lay clusters of small, barrel-shaped eggs on the underside of leaves or on plant stems. The eggs are typically light green to yellowish in color and are often laid in a hexagonal pattern. The number of eggs in a cluster can vary, but it can range from a few dozen to over a hundred, depending on environmental conditions and the female's reproductive capacity.
  • Nymph Stage: After an incubation period of about 4-10 days, the eggs hatch, giving rise to nymphs. Nymphs resemble small, wingless versions of the adult stink bugs but are often more brightly colored. Nymphs go through several molts (usually five) as they grow and develop. During each molt, they shed their exoskeleton to accommodate their increasing size. The color of nymphs can vary but may include shades of green or yellow, often with distinctive markings and red or orange coloration on the abdomen and antennae. Nymphs actively feed on plant sap and undergo gradual metamorphosis until they reach maturity.
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What Do Green Stink Bugs Eat?

Green stink bugs (Nezara viridula) are herbivorous insects that primarily feed on plant material. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to puncture plant tissues and extract the sap or juices, which can lead to damage to crops and plants. Here is an overview of what green stink bugs eat:

  • Fruits: Green stink bugs are known to feed on a wide range of fruits. This can include fruits like apples, peaches, pears, and citrus fruits. They puncture the skin of the fruit and extract the juice, which can result in cosmetic damage and reduced fruit quality.
  • Vegetables: These insects can be particularly problematic for vegetable crops. Green stink bugs may feed on vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, and okra. They can cause damage to the plants by extracting sap from leaves and stems.
  • Crops: In agriculture, green stink bugs can be a significant pest for crops like soybeans, cotton, corn, and various grains. Their feeding can reduce crop yields and negatively impact the quality of agricultural products.
  • Legumes: Stink bugs are known to infest leguminous crops, such as lentils and peas, where they feed on plant tissues and can cause damage to the crop.
  • Ornamental Plants: Green stink bugs may also feed on ornamental plants in gardens and landscapes. They can puncture leaves and stems, which can result in cosmetic damage to ornamental shrubs and flowers.
  • Weeds: Stink bugs can also be found on weedy plants and may feed on a variety of weed species.

Green stink bugs are highly polyphagous, meaning they can feed on a wide range of plant species. Their feeding can result in the deformation of plant tissues, reduced plant vigor, and a decrease in crop yields. Effective pest management strategies are often employed in agriculture to control their populations and minimize the damage they can cause to crops.

Do Green Stink Bugs Bite?

Green stink bugs (Nezara viridula) do not bite humans or animals in the same way that mosquitoes or some other insects do. They are not equipped with mouthparts designed for biting or piercing the skin of mammals. Instead, green stink bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to feed on plant material.

However, while green stink bugs don't bite people, they can be a nuisance when they are disturbed or handled. When threatened or agitated, they can release a foul-smelling odor as a defensive mechanism. This odor is emitted from specialized scent glands located on their abdomen and is intended to deter potential predators.

So, while green stink bugs won't bite humans, it's still advisable to handle them with care and avoid touching them if possible to avoid the release of their unpleasant odor.

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