Stink Bug Nymphs

2007 August 12

We were picking mulberries back in June, and found these cute little guys, who had just hatched from their egg clutch on the bottom of a mulberry leaf. When we spotted them, they were all in a little cluster next to the eggs, but started to disperse by the time I got them to the camera stand.


The little guys were pretty tiny (only a bit over 1 mm long), so it was hard to get a good clear picture of a single individual, but here is one that is reasonably sharp:


These are pretty clearly something in the Stink Bug (Pentatomidae) family. At first, I was thinking that they were harlequin bugs, Murgantia histrionica, but then I found out that this species is not normaly further north than a rough line from Pennsylvania to Colorado. That would not be us, so either they are new to the area, or these are something else entirely. Another, more likely possibility is the two-spotted stink bug, Perillus bioculatus, which is a predatory species that is found in most of the country[1].

Which all goes to show, if I really wanted to be sure what they are, I needed to raise them to a larger size so that they would start developing some distinctive adult features. Another advantage of raising them is that then I would have found out for sure what they ate.

I thought that the eggshells had an interesting feature: the tops had burst open like flowers, as if there were a star-pattern of perforated lines on the lids where they would pop open:


This suggests yet a third possibility, that they are in the genus Podisus, which have this rather distinctive type of eggshell, and also have orange-and-black hatchling nymphs. Indulging in speculation here, earlier I posted a picture of two stink bugs having sex, and thought that it was possible that they were Podisus brevispinus (among other possiblities). If that is in fact what they were, the timing, location, and probable genus are right for this egg clutch to be their offspring.

The combination of the black and red nymphs and the silvery, slightly iridescent empty eggshells was pretty eye-catching, the pictures really don’t do them full justice. The fact that they were so obvious leads me to suspect that these taste really foul, or maybe even are actively toxic. No, I didn’t taste one.

[1] An interesting point about Perillus bioculatus is that one of their favorite prey species is larvae of the colorado potato beetle, which is a very similar shade of orange.

3 Responses
  1. don permalink
    June 27, 2008

    i have the same things on my front screen door i live in howell michigan i have pictures on then hatching and good pictures of them before hatching in the eggs or whatever you call them anyways i just would like to find out more info about these bugs if i could if you would like pictures please email me and i will send them thanks!

  2. Mario Bélanger permalink
    October 10, 2009

    Hi! For the last two weeks, I have tried to find out the name of the insect I took in picture, with three black lines on the back. I asked some people who know a lot about forest: they never saw the beast before! I search on the web : no success! Someone told me it was a beetle, but the beetle have a separation on its back. Somebody else told me it was a bug. I don’t know.
    Wow! I finaly find your picture, which is about the same insect than those I discover in a field, close to Rimouski (Québec), which is very more North than you are.
    Would you like me to send you some pictures?
    Just send me your e-mail…

    You also can look for one picture at:

    Mario Bélanger, Rimouski

  3. October 12, 2009

    Mario: The picture on your Flickr page is pretty good, and they certainly do look like either the same thing as I have pictures of, or a very close relative.

    Now that I’ve had more time to think it over, I believe they are nymphs of one of the species in the genus Podisus.

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