What types of stink bugs live in California?
So you probably know that stink bugs stink, but they don’t stink all the time. Instead, they will spray their stink juice from holes all over their body when frightened as a defense mechanism or if you squish them.
And if that isn’t bad enough, some stink bugs can bite. Luckily, it will only sting for a second and is not venomous!
Here are 8 kinds of stink bugs found in California:
#1. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
- Halyomorpha Halys
- Brown on top and creamy whitish brown on the bottom. But colors can vary to red, grey, light brown, copper, or black.
- Blunt head has light and dark bands on antennae and around abdomen edges with a pale ring on each leg.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug gets the award for the biggest pest in California.
This stink bug was first seen in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in September 1998. It is believed that this stink bug hitched a ride from China or Japan in a shipping container. But, unfortunately, your Amazon packages were not the only thing making their way here.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Range Map
This stink bug emerges in spring and can produce five generations annually in warm weather. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug’s habitat includes gardens, parks, and agricultural fields.
This species eats over 100 plants such as ornamental fruits and vegetable crops. They will eat the juice of the fruits and veggies. These stink bugs cause pitting and scarring of the fruit, and also introduce microorganisms that cause decay.
Then in the fall, this stink bug seeks shelter from the cold weather.
Up to hundreds will seek refuge indoors and can become a massive nuisance. They look for openings, such as gaps in vents, windows, and doors.
But don’t worry, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug doesn’t bite people or pets, and they don’t spread disease. But be careful not to pick them up or squash them because they will release their stink spray with a nasty odor.
Find out why the Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs stink.
#2. Green Burgundy Stink Bug
- Banasa dimiata
- Front pale green or yellow, rear dark green or reddish-brown.
- The underside of the abdomen may have or may not have black dots along the sides.
The stink bug is common and abundant throughout California.
Green Burgundy Range Map
You will find the stink bug on many different trees and shrubs such as Dogwoods, Honeysuckles, and various fruit trees from spring through fall. In winter, the adults seek shelter in outbuildings or anywhere they can. So you may find them anywhere around your home, inside or out.
Like many other stink bugs, this species is common prey of parasitic wasps and flies.
#3. Blue Shieldbug
- Zicrona Caerulea
- Metallic blue-green shield and a dark wing membrane.
- During the nymph stage are red with black spots; look like ladybugs with longer antennae and legs.
I think Blue Shieldbugs are the prettiest stink bugs in California.
But honestly, they look more like beetles to me.
Blue Shieldbug Range Map
Look for the Blue Shieldbug in its natural habitat which consists of low vegetation such as damp grassland and forest edges.
This stink bug eats the larvae of various beetles, caterpillars, and moths and feeds on plants.
#4. Spined Soldier Bug
- Podisus Maculiventris
- Brown with a spine on each shoulder that points out not foward.
- Legs are yellowish.
The Spined Soldier Bug is beneficial; they eat many other nasty bugs. Like their name, they are soldiers and soldiers protect.
This stink bug species is common throughout California and should be a welcomed guest to your garden. Unfortunately, they prefer to eat caterpillars of the gypsy moth and larva of many beetles considered pests to gardeners.
Spined Soldier Bug Range Map
The Spined Soldier Bug also will feed on some juices of plants. The good news is that they are not capable of causing any harm to plants.
#5. Two-Spotted Stink Bug
- Perillu bioculatus
- Color can vary from black and red or orange or yellowish orange to reddish tan and creamy white.
- Keyhole mark on the back and two black spots on the upper part of the shield.
- The beak is twice as thick as its antennae. Legs have a whiteish stripe in the middle.
- Also known as the Double-Eyed Solider Bug.
You can find this species foraging for prey on plants. Their two spots and keyhole mark helps you quickly identify this species.
The Two-spotted Stink Bug is one of the most beneficial stink bugs in California.
Make sure not to harm these helpful stink bugs. Both larval and adult stages are predators of all the nasty bugs that harm crops and plants, such as other stink bugs, beetles, and caterpillars.
Two-spotted Stink Bug Range Map
Like other bugs, the Two-spotted Stink Bug has a beak. To feed, they will swing their beaks up from under their bodies and sneak up on their prey. Then, they stab their prey with their harpoon-like tipped beak and inject digestive enzymes which paralyze their victim.
This stink bug then sucks up the digested insides. Their beaks are SO strong; they can even pierce the hard shell of a hazelnut.
#6. Harlequin Bug
- Murgantia histrionica
- Smooth body and shieldlike in outline.
- Brightly marked, mostly shiny black with reddish-orange and white markings, to primarily orange.
- Also known as the Calico Bug and FireBug.
This species is common in gardens, fields, and roadsides in California.
You will most likely see this insect in spring and summer.
Harlequin Bug Range Map
The Harlequin Bug feeds on plants in the cabbage and tropical trees and bushes in the caper family. Therefore, they are often considered pests.
You will often find adults of this species mating on plants, and they will be attached end to end. Sometimes you may find their eggs on plants. Their eggs look like little black and white barrels, which is unique.
#7. Black Stink Bug
- Proxys punctulatus
- Black with black and cream legs, very pointy shoulders point forward.
- One white spot in the center of the shield.
Luckily, Black Stink Bugs don’t appear to damage crops in California.
Black Stink Bug Range Map
Instead, they seem to help keep away pests from farm fields. Look for this species foraging for insect larvae on cotton, soybean, and citrus fields.
They also feed on plant juices, but they never reach high populations, so their damage to the plants is very minimal.
Over winter, you typically find the Black Stink Bug under leaf litter or inside logs, hibernating together to stay warm.
#8. Say’s Stink Bug
- Chlorochroa sayi
- Color varies depending on the time of year—dark green in spring, light green in midsummer, and olive to reddish-brown in fall and winter.
- Three raised orange yellowish or whitish spots at the top middle part of the shield.
- Numerous irregular, smooth, white spots are scattered on the base of forewings.
You can find this stink bug in various habitats in California.
Say’s Stink Bug Range Map
The Say’s Stink Bug can be found in coastal plains, foothills, and mountains from spring through late fall.
This insect feeds on a wide variety of plants. Unfortunately, they have sometimes been considered pests of alfalfa, asparagus, beans, cotton, peas, sunflowers, and oats.
Do you need additional help identifying stink bugs in California?
Try this field guide!
Which of these stink bugs have you seen in California?
Leave a comment below!