You bet stink bugs can fly. But it’s not as graceful as you might imagine. In fact, the flight of stink bugs is quite the spectacle, with a few surprises along the way. We’ll delve into their peculiar flying patterns, examine their uncanny ability to hitchhike and explore their other modes of travel.
Plus, to help you better understand stink bugs, I explain the unexpected twist involving stink bug eggs, the insect’s foul odor, and a comparison to another notorious household pest.
Stink Bugs and Flight
Stink bugs, like many insects, are equipped with wings that fold neatly, forming a protective shield over their backsides. When they decide to take to the air, these wings unfurl, and off they go.
However, their flight is far from graceful and silent. Those wings are relatively bulky and awkward, creating a distinct buzzing noise during takeoff. The droning sound might even help you spot a squadron of stink bugs from a significant distance.
But their peculiar flight doesn’t end with buzzing. Stink bugs appear to fly in seemingly random, erratic patterns with no clear purpose. Their flight path is often described as clumsy, awkward, and bewildering. It’s almost as if stink bugs take to the air for recreational purposes more than for efficient transportation from Point A to Point B.
Now, let’s talk about the intriguing connection between stink bugs and bed bugs, as both are unwelcome household guests that homeowners need to be well-informed about if they wish to get rid of them.
[Insert Video: Fighting the Invasive Stinkbug | National Geographic]
Stink Bugs vs. Bed Bugs
The stink bug and bed bug, for some reason, are often confused for one another. That said, the bed bug and stink bug have very few similarities in appearance or otherwise — aside from the fact they are both pests, and folks are often curious whether or not they fly.
Want a better description of bed bugs? Check out our detailed guide on what bed bugs look like.
Bed bugs, thankfully, do not fly. Let’s compare the two pests in more depth below before moving on to discuss stink bug flight in a more comprehensive manner.
Stink bugs primarily feed on plant-based materials, such as fruits, vegetables, and soybeans. They use their piercing mouthparts to extract juices from these sources.
Bed bugs, on the other hand, have a taste for blood. They feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, with humans being one of their favorite hosts.
The stink bug life cycle includes eggs, nymphs, and adults. Nymphs resemble smaller versions of adult stink bugs but lack fully developed wings.
Bed bugs also undergo a series of developmental stages, progressing from eggs to nymphs and eventually reaching adulthood.
As previously discussed, stink bugs can indeed fly. However, their flight is far from smooth, often resembling a meandering journey.
Bed bugs are primarily crawlers. They do not possess wings or the ability to fly.
These pests are known to appear in large numbers, especially during overwintering when they seek shelter in homes.
Bed bugs often hide in cracks and crevices near their food source (i.e., your bed) and are known for their stealthy, nocturnal feeding habits. If you believe you have a bed bug issue, our guide on how to get rid of them can help you successfully eliminate them.
Now that we’ve explored this intriguing comparison let’s delve into other aspects of stink bug travel and survival.
More Ways Stink Bugs Move Around
Aside from their erratic flying patterns, stink bugs find other, more sure ways to move around.
A couple of the most common ways that stink bugs get into your home, or move around in general, are explored below.
While you won’t spot a stink bug hitchhiking on the side of the road, these resourceful insects do have their version of catching a ride. Stink bugs embark on short, awkward flights to land on various objects, including passing cars, buses, bicycles, and even humans. They’ll hop right onto a moving target and let fate decide their destination. This unintentional mode of travel enables stink bugs to cover a lot more ground than they would by flying alone.
In fact, being hitchhikers is precisely how brown marmorated stink bugs, a particular species of stink bug, arrived in the mainland United States in the 1990s. They likely hitched a ride in shipping containers on cargo ships, initiating an invasion that continues to spread.
Although stink bugs aren’t known for their speed, they can and do employ their legs for walking on various surfaces. This mode of travel serves them well for moving shorter distances, such as traversing the exterior of a house or climbing a tree.
Stink bugs use their tiny, clawed feet to grip onto surfaces like siding, bricks, bark, leaves, or any other solid terrain. Crawling proves to be especially useful for stink bugs when moving between outdoor vegetation and indoor entry points.
For this reason, I strongly suggest using caulk to seal up any cracks or crevices that may provide clear and free entry for stink bugs (and other pests) into your home.
Stink Bugs in Winter
Stink bugs and bed bugs share a common challenge when winter approaches. In temperate regions, both of these pests have strategies for dealing with the cold.
When winter is on the horizon, stink bugs seek out protective spots to go dormant. Attics, wall voids, and other hidden nooks in homes provide shelter, and stink bugs gather in these locations during the fall. Essentially, they sleep through the winter, awaiting the warmth of spring.
Bed bugs also face challenges with cold weather, but unlike stink bugs, they do not fly. Instead, they hide in cracks and crevices near their source of food to endure the winter. When temperatures drop, they become less active and may enter a state of diapause, a sort of hibernation for insects.
A Final Word
Stink bugs can indeed fly, and their flight patterns are far from graceful. When they lift off, their bulky wings create a distinctive buzzing sound, and their flight paths are often erratic and seemingly aimless. However, their ability to fly, hitchhike, and crawl allows them to cover a lot of ground.
These insects can also be controlled with pesticides or insecticides, especially in agricultural settings. Homeowners can practice stink bug control to combat and prevent stink bug infestations, including sealing entry points and reducing outdoor lighting.
And remember, while stink bugs can be a nuisance, they’re not to be confused with termites, bed bugs, or other bugs, as they are distinct species. If you find your home or garden facing an invasion of stink bugs, consider consulting with professional pest control services to address the issue effectively.
Further, if your stink bug problem seems never-ending, and/or your DIY pest control strategies aren’t working out, I suggest reaching out to a local exterminator or national pest control company.
FAQs About Stink Bug Flight and More
Do stink bugs lay eggs?
Yes, stink bugs lay eggs. Female stink bugs deposit their eggs on the underside of leaves, where they are protected and can access food sources. These eggs hatch into nymphs, the next stage in the stink bug life cycle.
Can stink bugs damage plants?
Yes, stink bugs are known to damage plants. They use their piercing mouthparts to feed on fruits, vegetables, and other plant materials, which can lead to cosmetic and economic damage, especially in agricultural settings.
Are stink bugs considered an invasive species?
Yes, many stink bug species are considered invasive. The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), in particular, is a highly invasive species that has spread to various regions, including North America, causing agricultural and household pest problems.
Do stink bugs produce a foul odor?
Yes, stink bugs are known for releasing a foul odor when they feel threatened or are crushed. This odor is a defense mechanism that helps deter potential predators.
Can stink bugs be controlled with pesticides or insecticides?
Yes, pesticides and insecticides can be effective in controlling stink bug infestations, especially in agricultural settings. Homeowners should consult with professional pest control services to address stink bug issues.
What attracts stink bugs to homes?
Stink bugs are attracted to homes by factors like warmth, light, and food sources. They often seek shelter indoors during the winter and are drawn to artificial lights, like those near doors and windows.
Can stink bugs be mistaken for termites?
While stink bugs and termites share some similarities, such as their size and body shape, they are distinct species. Termites are wood-destroying insects, while stink bugs primarily feed on plants. If you’re unsure, consult with a pest control professional to correctly identify the insects in question.
What should homeowners do to prevent stink bug infestations?
Homeowners can take several measures to prevent stink bug infestations. These include sealing cracks and crevices, using screens on doors and windows, reducing outdoor lighting at night, and consulting professional pest control services if needed.
Can stink bugs fly in large numbers?
Yes, stink bugs can fly in large numbers, especially during their overwintering phase when they seek shelter in homes. They often appear in significant quantities during these migrations.