How to Find Stink Bugs in Their Natural Habitats

What You'll Need
Magnifying glass
Bug net
Insect guide book
Garden rake

There are many different varieties of stink bugs; some even have a colorful and attractive appearance. However, these bugs will damage your plants and flowers. Here are a few suggestions to help you find stink bugs in their natural habitat, and learn how to keep them out of yours.

Step 1: Natural Habitat

The stink bug lives in North America in meadows, fields, grassy yards and gardens of all sizes. They will most likely be on the underside of leaves of many kinds of plants. One of their favorite foods is any of the mustard family of plants. They tend to like yellow flowers such as sunflowers, and flowers with multiple petal layers such as roses, peonies, carnations and dahlias. 

Step 2: Is it a Stink bug?

Turn leaves over with gloved hands and use the magnifying glass and insect guide to positively identify the members of the insect family. The stink bug has a broad, shield-shaped back which seems to be divided into 5 sections:  two triangles or wedge shapes at the top, just below the head; two rectangles down the sides' and a rectangle in the center of the back, pointed at top and bottom.

4 legs are on the thorax and abdomen, and are much larger than the 2 front legs nearest the head. Look for mottled green color, mottled brown and green, all black, black with red or white and a vibrant orange with green.

Step 3: Life Cycle of Stink Bugs

Take note of the plant type you find the stink bugs living on. If you have this plant type in your garden it may become a target for stink bugs.

Don't just look for adult stink bugs. Look for their nymph stage and their eggs. Eggs will be shaped like barrels, and laid in massed rows on the lower side of leaves. The nymphs look like small worms, with the same sucking-adapted mouth parts as the adult stink bug. They stay near the eggs for a few weeks.

As they grow larger they spread out onto new leaves in search of more food. When you see nymph and adult stink bugs, collect them by hand. They will release their stinky odor from an opening at the rear of their outer shells. Hold that part away from your face when picking the adults off leaves.