Stinkbugs stink because they release an unpleasant odor to deter predators. The odor comes from a foul-smelling liquid that is secreted by glands located on the insect’s thorax. This liquid spreads the odor to any animal that comes into contact with it. Many predators find the taste of the stinkbugs as unpleasant as the odor and release the bugs upon tasting them. Many stinkbugs also use odors to locate and attract potential mates.
Stinkbugs also use their coloration to avoid detection by predators. Some species are green to blend in with vegetation, and others are brown and gray to blend in with bark and leaf litter. Scientists believe that the brightly colored harlequin bug, another species of stinkbug, uses its bold red, orange and yellow coloration as a warning to predators of its foul taste and smell.
As a true bug, the stinkbug has two sets of wings and no chewing mouthparts. Stinkbugs may feed on the sap or juice of plants or the body fluid of other insects, depending on the species. Some stinkbugs are invasive pests of crops, such as cabbage and cotton, and the harlequin cabbage stinkbug feeds on members of the mustard family. Farmers welcome other species of stinkbugs that are not harmful to crops and feed on smaller invasive insects.