Stink bugs, or shield bugs in different terminology, are a family of insects belonging to the order Hemiptera. These insects were originally native to East Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan, and the Korean Peninsula but began to come into prominence in America in 1998.
Stink bugs have earned their title because of their peculiarly unpleasant smell. It is a pungent smell variably called “the stink” released from the insect’s thoracic glands as a defensive mechanism against would-be predators.
Stink bugs are largely considered a nuisance to agriculture. Many efforts have been made to identify predators efficient at eliminating stink bugs with some being more effective than others.
List of Stink Bugs Predators
1. Parasitoid Wasps
The parasitoid wasps refer to a large group of insects within the hymenopteran superfamilies. Their name is derived from their ability to use larvae to infect their victims and turn them into unknowing hosts. The larvae eventually grow into maturity, also killing the host in the process.
The parasitoid wasps, specifically the species Trissolcus japonicus or the Samurai wasps, are largely considered the primary predators of Stink Bugs. They effectively eliminate their prey by injecting their eggs into the eggs of the stink bugs. In the process of growth, the larvae kill the stink bug eggs all the while the larvae grow into an adult wasp.
Though originally native in Asia, Samurai wasps have recently been used in the United States as biological means to control stink bugs in agriculture.
2. Wheel Bug
Our next predator of stink bugs is the wheel bug. The wheel bug or “assassin bug” in some discussions, is a large terrestrial bug common in North America. It belongs to the family Reduviidae and they behave differently in that they are ambush predators.
These bugs possess an elongated head with an unfolding proboscis at the end. This proboscis is their main weapon of defense or offense, capable of stabbing their victims and effectively injecting them with a lethal saliva. This saliva contains harmful enzymes that can liquefy the prey from the insides.
This same proboscis is also the way wheel bugs eat their recently liquefied prey, leaving only an empty shell after its feeding. Faced with a wheel bug, the stink bug is defenseless to defend itself. Its pungent odor is not enough to drive away an aggressive wheel bug.
3. Pill Bugs
The pill bugs are a group of insects belonging to the order Isopoda. They are the common woodlice or fondly called by some as the rolly pollies. Their names speak for themselves as these insects can roll into a ball. This ability is called conglobation and is a defense mechanism towards would-be predators that may threaten them.
Pillbugs may appear mildly threatening as their demeanor reflect a humble nature. On the contrary, pill bugs serve as effective predators of stink bugs. In particular, pill bugs usually navigate plants at night and search out stink bug eggs for them to eat. What was originally thought as a gentle bug, is actually a devastating predator to the stink bugs.
4. Praying Mantis
The praying mantis is an insect belonging to the order Mantodea and it’s a well-known insect because of its unique appearance and posture. As its name implies, the mantis is a long insect with enlarged forelegs folded in front of its body assuming a praying position. These forelegs are powerful appendages this insect uses to catch and eat prey.
Mantises are ambush predators and are exceptional at lying in wait for smaller insects to find their way into its space of influence. They are good at camouflaging themselves and staying very still while waiting for a would-be prey to wander within range.
The stink bug may fall within a praying mantis’ territory and by that point, it may already not have a fighting chance. The mantis can quickly take hold of a stink bug with its long and powerful forelegs, crushing the body of the stink bug. The grip of these legs may prove too strong for the stink bug to attempt any escape. The mantis will then proceed to eat its prey all the while mincing its body for easier consumption. If so willing, the mantis can store its food within its foregut to consume later on.
5. Tangle-web spiders
A subset of spiders belonging to the family Theridiidae, the tangle-web spiders specialize in creating abundant and elaborate web traps intended to catch their food and prey. Their webs have the distinguishing characteristic of possessing sticky silk meaning a prey once caught in the web will have an immensely difficult time trying to escape.
The tangle-web spider can immediately sense through its web once an unknowing prey has been caught within the web. The spider then proceeds to secure its prey by producing more of the sticky silk web to further trap its prey. At the same time, these spiders deliver a deadly venom to its victims that subdues them and renders them completely helpless. Using this mechanism, the tangle-web spiders are an effective predator to stink bugs.
6. Jumping Spiders
Jumping spiders belong to the family Salticidae. Based on their name, these spiders are known for swiftness and superior jumping power. A jumping spider is believed to be able to leap forward almost 50 times its length. This makes them excellent predators of other unsuspecting smaller insects.
These spiders have a signature look that you can’t mistake for other species of spiders. They have a rectangular face and sporting a total of eight eyes, two of which are located equally spaced in the front of the face. These two eyes provide the spider superior eyesight owing to the abundance of photoreceptors within these eyes. Truly the jumping spider is a formidable predator that the stink bug should be wary to avoid.
Jumping spiders can spot a vulnerable stink bug with their eight eyes. After having locked on to its target, the spider assumes his pouncing position and starts to slowly stalk towards its prey. Once ready, the spider leaps into the air with amazing speed and pouncing upon the stink bug with such ferocity. It needs only to deliver its deadly venom and its game over for its prey.
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