Other Common Names
Shield Bugs (mostly used to refer to Acanthosomatidae
and thus not recommended)
Explanation of Names
Pentatomidae Leach 1815
Greek pente 'five' + tom- 'section, cut' (a reference to the 5-segmented antennae)
the English name refers to the odor produced by these bugs in self-defense
one of the largest heteropteran families, with >220 species in 64 genera of 5 subfamilies in our area(1)
and almost 5000 spp. in ~900 genera of 10 subfamilies worldwide(2)
Overview of our fauna (DRAFT)Taxa not yet in the guide are marked (*). Dubious records not included.
Characteristics of family:
broad, shield-shaped bugs
large, triangular scutellum
head relatively small and often "tucked into" a concavity in anterior margin of pronotum
worldwide and throughout NA
spring through fall (overwinter usually as adults under ground cover or leaf litter); eggs generally laid in spring; uni- or to multivoltine(1)
The majority are herbivorous, but members of one subfamily (Asopinae
) are predaceous on other insects. Both adults and nymphs of plant-feeding species may damage plants, mostly by piercing the plant tissues and thus opening a path for pathogens to enter the plant.
Many species, whether primarily herbivorous or predaceous, are generalist feeders.(1)
Barrel-shaped eggs are laid on the underside of leaves in clusters with tight rows; in early spring, overwintered adult females seek out suitable hosts and typically deposit their eggs on wild host plants. Often these overwintering populations are found along field borders, particularly along tree lines near their overwintering sites. Later-developing cultivated plants become more attractive when these initial wild hosts dry down, and their proximity allows easy access for stink bug colonization in crops; emerging nymphs are gregarious and remain on/near the egg mass, then begin to feed and disperse as they grow.
overwintering adults often become conspicuous guests in homes; many spp. come to lights, sometimes in numbers(1)