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Stink or soldier bug - how do you tell?

August 23, 2007

I have looked and looked at pictures of the brown stink bug and the spined soldier bug and I just cannot tell the difference. Look at these two guys:





The first is a spined soldier bug (good) and the second a stink bug (bad). I found one yesterday hanging out on a Gypsy pepper. Just hanging around, so I took a picture which wasn't detailed enough to see anything. then today he was still on that pepper, which I picked and he peed on it. I tried to sniff it but he came at my nose and I was afraid he would attack me.

So I'm sorry to say I stepped on him. I *think* he was a stink bug, but geeez, how do you tell?

The thing is I planted this beautiful native goldenrod, and it was near the pepper, and goldenrod is supposed to attract spined soldier bugs in fall. But I think when it blooms, and it's not blooming yet.

I do hope I haven't killed another friend. I've already killed a ladybug in haste, thinking it was a bean beetle and it's traumatic.

Comments (9)

  • Kimmsr

    If when you stepped on that bug you noticed a vile odor it was a "stink bug". If there wasn't that vile odor it wasn't. There is no really good and easy way to tell the difference and some entomologists I know have a difficult time.

  • squonnk

    The "shoulders" of the spined soldier bug are thinner and the points extend out farther in proportion to the body than they do on the stink bug. Also, the tips of the wings have brown spots. When the wings are folded, it looks like one spot at the very center of the back of the bug.

    Spined soldier bug:

    Stink bug:

  • anitamo

    Excellent way to tell them apart. Thanks squonnk. I know it's an old post, but worth bringing to the top again.

  • terroir

    these bastards are killing my monarch caterpillars! lol

    sorry for the rant :)

  • squipkeys_aol_com

    Thanks for the graphic photos. Man I hate those critters. I put on plastic gloves and squish as many as I can before dropping the horrid little bodies in a can of liquid soap.

  • PunkinHeadJones

    Note the more distinct folded wing markings flanking the abdomen and the Playboy Bunny logo at the end. in the heat of bsttle this morning I might have squished a good bug.

  • stephdmonsi

    I caught one in our herb planter and wanted to use it in our homeschool to have the kids do investigation. I had them look at lots of photos and discuss what they saw and thought he was, but until we came to this site we couldn't determine what he was for certain. After we compared ours to the photos here, at first we thought he was a good soldier bug because he had solid brown legs, but it turns out his spots are just very faint. Upon further comparison with these photos, ours has the VERY black-tipped antenna, so he must be a bad stink bug. Right?

  • cjdova

    I hate stink bugs! We don't normally have problelms with them here in MN but when we bought our RV in Virginia and brought it home we found that our RV was infested with stink bugs! The only way I can get rid of them without them stinking the place or multiplying like crazy is to cut the top of a water bottle just enough to fit a cardboard toilet paper cylinder. I put about 1/8 to a 1/4 cup dish soap in it and dilute it with a little water then fit the cylinder in it and I can scrape the "stinkers" off the ceiling or the walls. When they fall into the dish soap it is too slippery for them to get out and they die almost instantly.

  • Leslie

    I know this is an old post but Bing pulled it up anyway when I searched for soldier vs stink bug identification tips. Out of all of the results squonnk nailed it. Other sites were either too technical or said it's very difficult to make a distinction, which I couldn't believe. One bug was a stink bug, which I sucked up with my hand vac. And the other one was a soldier bug, which I left alone after thanking it profusely for it's diligent work. I really hope that somebody picks up on this post! And big gratitude to Squonnk, who's probably not even on the site anymore.

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