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Temporal range: Paleogene–Recent
Nezara viridula2.jpg
Nezara viridula
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Suborder: Heteroptera
Infraorder: Pentatomomorpha
Superfamily: Pentatomoidea
Family: Pentatomidae
Leach, 1815

Pentatomidae is a family of insects belonging to the order Hemiptera, generally called shield bugs or stink bugs. Pentatomidae is the largest family in the superfamily Pentatomoidea, and contains around 900 genera and over 4700 species.[1][2] As hemipterans, the pentatomids have piercing sucking mouthparts, and most are phytophagous, including several species which are severe pests on agricultural crops. However, some species, particularly in the subfamily Asopinae, are predatory and may be considered beneficial.


The name "Pentatomidae" is from the Greek pente meaning "five" and tomos meaning "section", and refers to the five segments of their antennae.[1] Pentatomids are generally called "shield bugs" in English, or "stink bugs" in American English. However, the term shield bugs is also applied broadly to include several related families (e.g. Acanthosomatidae, Scutelleridae, and Cydnidae), or specifically only to refer to species in the family Acanthosomatidae.[1][3][4][5][6] The term shield bug refers to the generalized body shape of adult bugs in these families which resembles a heraldic shield when viewed from above.

The American name "stink bug" is specific to the Pentatomidae, and refers to their ability to release a pungent defensive spray when threatened, disturbed, or crushed. The composition of this spray may vary between species, and even by sex or age,[7] but generally includes aldehydes and alkanes. Descriptions of the smells vary widely, and include oily, dusty, woody and earthy, and like coriander.[8][9] In some species, the liquid contains cyanide compounds and a rancid almond scent, used to protect themselves and discourage predators.[8]

The term "stink bug" may also be a vernacular for unrelated insects such as pinacate beetles (the genus Eleodes).[10]


There are several subfamilies, of which the Australian Aphylinae is often given family status, but is here retained as a subfamily, following Grazia et al. (2008).[11]


All pentatomids have 5-segmented antennae, and 3 tarsal segments on each foot. They generally have a large triangular scutellum in the center of the back. The body shape of adult pentatomids is generally "shieldlike," when viewed from above, but this varies between species, and is not true for the immature nymphal stages. The forewings of stink bugs are called hemelytra, with the basal half thickened while the apex is membranous. At rest, the wings are laid across the back of the insect, with the membranous wingtips overlapping. The hindwings are entirely membranous.


Anatomy of the dorsal aspect of a shield bug. A: head; B: thorax; C: abdomen. 1: claws; 2: tarsus; 3: tibia; 4: femur; 8: compound eye; 9: antenna; 10: clypeus; 23: laterotergites (connexivum); 25: pronotum; 26: scutellum; 27: clavus; 28: corium; 29: embolium; 30: hemelytral membrane.

Several stink bugs and shield bugs are considered agricultural pests, because they can grow into large populations that feed on crops, damaging production, and they are resistant to many pesticides. They are a threat to cotton, corn, sorghum, soybeans, native and ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, weeds, and many cultivated crops.[12]

In Mexico, some species of stink bugs are called jumil, chinche de monte, xotlinilli, or chumil (e.g. Edessa mexicana). They are most often eaten in the states of Morelos and Guerrero. The flavor is sometimes said to resemble cinnamon, or sometimes a bitter medicinal flavor. Jumiles may be used for making sauces or as taco filling.[13]

Since recent arrival in the U.S., populations of the brown marmorated stink bug have grown significantly. As of October 2014, brown marmorated stink bugs can be found in 41 out of 50 states within the U.S.[14] In 2016 New Zealand's MPI put out an alert to prevent this invasive species from entering via imported cargo.[15]

Acoloba lanceolata

Brown marmorated stink bugs are expected to be a threat for the 2020 hazelnut harvest in Turkey.[16]

See also[edit]

European species[edit]

European species within this family include:[17]


  1. ^ a b c "Family Pentatomidae - Stink Bugs". Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  2. ^ Robert G. Foottit, Peter H. Adler Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society, John Wiley and Sons, 2009,ISBN 1-4051-5142-0
  3. ^ Nau, Bernard (2004). Guide to Shieldbugs of the British Isles. Field Studies Council. ISBN 1851538984.
  4. ^ Chinery, Michael (1993). Insects of Britain & Western Europe. London: Harper/Collins. p. 72. ISBN 0-00-219137-7.
  5. ^ "ITIS Report, Pentatomidae Leach, 1815".
  6. ^ "Acanthosomatidae — Overview". Encyclopedia of Life.
  7. ^ Martín Pareja Miguel Borges Raúl A.Laumann Maria C.B. Moraes (2007). "Inter- and intraspecific variation in defensive compounds produced by five neotropical stink bug species (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)". Journal of Insect Physiology. 53 (7): 639–648. doi:10.1016/j.jinsphys.2007.04.004. PMID 17574569.
  8. ^ a b "Stink Bugs: It Could Be Worse". New York Times.
  9. ^ "What's in a name – do stink bugs stink?". Terminix Website.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ J. Grazia, R. T. Schuh & W. C. Wheeler (2008). "Phylogenetic relationships of family groups in Pentatomoidea based on morphology and DNA sequences (Insecta: Heteroptera)" (PDF). Cladistics. 24 (6): 932–976. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2008.00224.x. S2CID 41951432.
  12. ^ "Brown marmorated stink bug". Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ Jason Bittel. "Stinkbugs Have Spread to 41 States; Can We Stop Them?". National Geographic. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  15. ^ Ministry for Primary Industries New Zealand. "MPI on high alert for stink bug". MPI. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  16. ^ Stinkbug invasion in Turkey threatens world hazelnut supplies, 2020-04-02
  17. ^ "Species list in Fauna europaea". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-13.

External links[edit]