Mating Stink Bugs – Probably Webworm Destroyers

2014 June 28

Here’s a couple of stink bugs I found mating on July 12, 2013.

They look very like the predatory stink bugs I’ve been calling Webworm Destroyers, because of the carnage they wreak on the types of caterpillars that make silk nests. If we look at their undersides, we see that they have the fairly stout, flesh-stabbing mouthparts that are typical for predatory bugs (as opposed to the long, needlelike mouthparts that are more typical of the ones that suck plant juices).

Mating is obviously very important to them. So much so that they didn’t let go no matter how much I pushed and rolled them around, and looked like they were quite prepared to stay coupled together all day.

I think that the female was the slightly bigger of the two. She seemed to be taking the lead, dragging her made around wherever she wanted to go. Here’s her face;

And here’s the face of her mate:

Aside from the slight size difference, there is really very little visible difference between the sexes.

I believe that the male was indulging in the time-honored practice of “mate guarding”. Once he fertilized her, he stayed attached to prevent any other males from also mating with her, making sure all of her eggs were fertilized by him alone. This sort of behavior seems to be most common in small arthropods that don’t have to worry much about predation. Stink bugs are evidently pretty foul-tasting, even to other insects. The year that we raised a praying mantis, the stink bugs were one of the few things that he absolutely refused to so much as touch. So, even though having a male dangling from her would obviously seriously impair the female’s ability to flee from predators, it doesn’t matter much because they effectively have no predators. Apparently the only things that really prey on stink bugs are a few species of parasitic wasp, and maybe other predatory stink bugs.

One Response
  1. May 22, 2021

    Thank you for taking the time to display a pair of mating stink bugs. Most information on the web about them focuses on eradication. Light science articles dodge the obvious question of how these two tank-like creatures perform the nasty. Where does the male insert his “penis” – is it spiky so perhaps it is not so easy for them to uncouple? While you don’t explain it here, I’m rejuvenated after a frustrating search. I am not a farmer and the variety here in Central NY do not “stink” – at least to my nose. Yes, they have a bitter vegetative odor. But given all things humans create that produce stench (plastics stink especially when burned), a little humility here, folks. WE stink too. Our cultural bias against scents as well as our collective revulsion regarding the intimacies of creatures we consider as another inconvenience is evidence of mass ignorance. Farmers have a legit gripe. Everyone else should grow up a little. Thanks again.

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