Brown Stink Bug Plant Damage and Control

Brown stink bugs are members of Pentatominae family of true bugs (order Heteroptera). Of the 180 species in this family only 5 members are considered of major economic importance: southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula; rice stink bug, Oebalus pugnax pugnax; green stink bug, Acrosternum hilare; brown stink bug, Euschistus servus; and one-spot stink bug Euschistus variolarius. Other stink bugs occasionally can cause severe damage.1

Close up picture of brown stink bug
Brown stink bug, Euschistus servus

The one-spot stink bug and brown stink bug are closely related and similar in appearance. The brown stink bug is mottled in various shades of brown and has black spots on the underside of the abdomen near the margins, while the one-spot stink bug lacks these lateral spots and has one large black spot near the tip of the abdomen and a distinctive longitudinal groove on the hind tibia.2

Most pentatomoids feed on a wide range of fruit, vegetable, nut, and grain crops, as well as wild plants. Adults and nymphs obtain their food by piercing plant tissues with their stylets and extracting plant fluids. Stink bugs may attack all parts of plants, although it is most often seen on fruiting structures. Injured fruit has a cat-faced (puckered) or pitted appearance.

Adults are about 16 mm long. Adults overwinter on weeds and garden debris where they form large aggregations. Female brown stink bug deposits about 600 eggs during lifetime. Barrel-shaped eggs are deposited in clusters of 30-70 on plant leaves. Nymphs form aggregations. Mature nymphs are about 12 mm long, yellow or pale brown with darker brown spots that form a line on the abdomen.3 There are at least two generations a year.

Knock pests into a container of soapy water; check underside of leaves for egg clusters to destroy. Control weeds in the garden, but maintain pollen and nectar plants to attract beneficials. Predators of brown stink bug include parasitic wasps and tachinid flies.4

Halyomorpha halys, otherwise known as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), is an invasive pest that has ravaged farms and distressed homeowners in the mid-Atlantic region of the US in recent years. this insect pest causes economically important damage to many crops including vegetables, tree fruit, field crops, and ornamentals. In addition to being an agricultural pest, many mid-Atlantic homeowners are troubled by BMSB. Unlike native stink bugs, BMSB aggregates in human-made structures, including houses, to overwinter.


  1. Stink Bugs of Economic Importance in America J. E. McPherson, Robert McPherson
  2. Insects of the Great Lakes Region By Gary A. Dunn
  3. A Dictionary of Entomology By George Gordh, Gordon Gordh, David Headrick
  4. Insect, disease & weed I.D. guide: find-it-fast organic solutions for your garden. Jill Jesiolowski Cebenko, Linda A. Gilkeson, Deborah L. Martin
  5. Rapid transcriptome sequencing of an invasive pest, the brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys. Panagiotis Ioannidis et al. BMC Genomics. 2014; 15(1): 738.

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