The stink bug family name, Pentatomids, comes from the Greek words “pente” and “tomos,” which means "five sections." The stink bug has a wide shield-like body with a triangular scutellum (the area where the wings attach) and a pincer-shaped mouth used for piercing and sucking. When stink bugs are threatened, they release an unpleasant smell from their thoracic glands, which warns other animals of danger and attracts mates.
There are 250 species of stink bugs in North America. There are over 4,700 species worldwide; they are often found in gardens, yards and fields.
The stink bug undergoes a three-stage metamorphosis, developing from the egg to the nymph to the final adult stage. Eggs are typically found on the undersides and stems of leaves, arranged in precise rows. The appearance of the nymph stink bug is similar to that of the adult. The growing stink bug often becomes more pointed during the four to five weeks during which it goes through its five molting periods.
Stink bugs feed on plants and sap as well as the insects found in vegetation. Stink bugs are a help for gardens because they feed on pests, such as beetle larvae and caterpillars, but they also harm plants by feeding on the sap of the fruiting parts and leaves of plants.