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Stink Bugs May be Good for Something After All

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has been annoying homeowners and fruit and vegetable growers for years, ever since it made its way to North America from Asia in 1998, where it was fist spotted in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Since then it’s been spotted in at least 36 other states. Although they cause no harm to people or buildings, their invasions have inspired serious animosity and even creativity, such as this rock video by Frankentractor and Friends (below), or this humorous video on how to control them by Mike Raupp, “The Bug Guy” from the University of Maryland (also below).

But now there’s evidence that these pesky stinkers might actually be good for something. According to an article published this year in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Mike Raupp and colleagues conclude that they may actually help feed some wasps and ants by wounding plants, which then leak sap that the wasps and ants can feed on.

In the article “Invasive Stink Bug Wounds Trees, Liberates Sugars, and Facilitates Native Hymenoptera,” the authors report observing stink bugs feeding through the bark of trees and noticing several species of wasps and ants at the feeding sites, which led them to deduce that they were feeding on the sap from the wounded trees.

“The invasive brown marmorated stink bug, H. halys, is economically damaging and has the potential to introduce disease to woody trees as it feeds,” they write. “Resources made available by its feeding, however, directly increase the carbohydrate resources available to insects that are known to provide important ecological services, including biological control of pests and the pollination of plants. H. halys may therefore have an indirect positive role in invaded ecosystems, in addition to its direct negative effect on plants.”

This study shows how truly complex ecosystems can be, and how even damaging invasive species like the BMSB can be beneficial to useful pollinators or insects that attack other insects such as wasps. Don’t get me wrong, I still think these suckers stink, but maybe not as much as I once did.

Richard Levine

Richard Levine is Communications Program Manager at the Entomological Society of America and editor of the Entomology Today Blog.


  1. Doesn’t look like a very good purpose to humans. Apparently, they just promote the livelihood of other annoying pests. lol Bravo!

  2. Though you may see a benefit in what they do as they damage bark and plant exteriors. They still remain a non-native species to our area. That in itself means they are not good to have around. I noticed them on my plants this year more than that and and extremely high population trying to get into my house in the last couple of days. They seem larger and faster too! Literally thousands.

  3. Last winter as I was sleeping I awoke to something crawling in my armpit. As i rolled over i first smelled that famous stink bug smell then it was like a bee sting i jumped out of bed and brushed it off me. The pain was severe and to this day I still have a red Mark. So YES they DO bite

  4. Interesting but they don’t seem to value life or try to get away they can fly away but don’t the will just stand and be killed

  5. Oh my goodness. I love them 🤔😂..they’re beautiful. I walk round with them crawling over me. I’m just watching one walk round and round on my lampshade and thought I’d find out what the purpose of its life is as the ones in my house just don’t seem to have one. I have plants and fruit but they’re nowhere near them. They’re so cute but we do have many more than I’ve ever seen before in Switzerland

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