Monday, February 27, 2012
Tree Stink Bugs
These are relatively large stink bugs that measure up to 20 mm, or nearly one inch. The two pictured here were easily 3/4 of an inch in length. They have a very bark-like appearance giving them great camouflage among the trees that they frequently hang out on. They are common throughout North America in habitats that have trees. Look for them in orchards, forests and nearby areas.
There are numerous species within this genus and I've read accounts that claim some are plant feeders and will suck the juices out of various garden plants like okra, peas, cabbage, corn, squash, and tomatoes. Others feed on orchard trees like peaches and citrus. Many will also feed on alfalfa, cotton, soybeans, and other forage crops. Some species within this genus are beneficial because they feed on harmful caterpillars, beetles and soft bodied insects. One article stated that by looking at the "shoulders" of the bug you can determine if these stink bugs are plant feeders or insect feeders. Plant feeders have rounded shoulders, whereas insect feeders have pointed shoulders. The ones pictured here definitely have pointed shoulders.
The adults overwinter under the bark of trees or in leaf litter. In the spring the female will lay clusters of eggs on the leaves of various trees. It will take the nymphs most of the summer to reach adult size. Then they will in turn over winter and emerge the following spring to lay eggs and carry on their kind.