University of Maryland Extension

Predatory Stink Bugs

soldier bug attacking insect pest  soldier bug attacked caterpillar
Predatory bug                                        Spined soldier bug attacking a caterpillar 

  • Unlike their other stink bug relatives like brown marmorated stink bugs, predatory stink bugs are a gardener’s friend, feeding on more than 100 species of insect pests.
  • Both nymphs and adults attack insects larger than themselves, and suck the body fluids from their prey with a needle-like beak.
  • Predatory stink bugs tend to have a shorter, stouter beak than the long, thin beak of plant-feeding stink bugs.
  • Adults overwinter in sheltered locations and leaf litter, emerging in early spring to stalk and devour their prey.

Important species in Maryland: Spined soldier bug, two-spotted stink bug

Life stage(s) that feed on pests: Nymphs and adults.

Insect(s) fed on: Spined soldier bugs prefer larger insects such as grubs and the larvae of various beetles and moths, and are especially fond of caterpillars. Two-spotted stink bugs often eat the eggs and larvae of Colorado potato beetle, and smaller caterpillars and larvae. 1st instar nymphs of two-spotted stink bugs feed on plant sap, as will adults in early spring before prey are available, but do no significant damage to plants.

Video: Dr. Mike Raupp, UMD, Entomologist (retired)


Eggs: Barrel-shaped, laid in clusters of 15 to 30 on leaves; spined soldier bug eggs are gray, cream or gold; two-spotted stink bug eggs are gray.
Nymphs: Smaller than adults and rounded rather than shield shaped; red and black initially, older nymphs develop yellow, white, tan or black markings; lack spines; wing pads only (lack full size wings).
Adults: Spined soldier bugs are about ¼-½” long, flattened, shield-shaped, light brown in color; one spine on each “shoulder”; yellow beak held beneath the body. Two-spotted stink bugs are up to ½” long,   shield-shaped, black with yellow or red markings, a distinctive Y marking on the back, and two black “dash” marks behind the head.

Where to find: Generally throughout the garden, particularly on apples, asparagus, beans, cole crops, cucurbits, eggplant, potatoes, onions, sweet corn and tomatoes.

How to attract and conserve: Pheromones have been used to attract spined soldier bugs to the garden. Year-round ground cover in garden will provide overwintering sites and shelter, as well as plant sap to feed on early in the season. Avoid or reduce use of broad-spectrum insecticides.

Contributors: Mike Raupp, Jon Traunfeld, and Chris Sargent

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2020. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.