As the weather turns colder, there are inevitably a few different bugs in Pennsylvania homeowners are bound to encounter. One such bug is the stink bug, long the butt of childish humor and pranks.

However, stink bug populations can grow quickly and infest your home if not dealt with quickly – especially in Northeastern and Southeastern Pennsylvania. While not necessarily dangerous, stink bugs can be a major nuisance, especially regarding their odor.

This guide will discuss everything you need to know about stink bugs so you can avoid them and their unpleasant smell for good.

What Is a Stink Bug?

Stink bugs, scientifically known as Pentatomidae, are small insects characterized by their shield-shaped bodies and distinctive odor. There are various species of stink bugs, but the most common one in Pennsylvania is the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys).

Some stink bugs can be helpful predators for eliminating pests that snack on fruits and vegetables. However, some species of stink bugs may do the snacking themselves.

Stink bugs are native to Asia but have recently become invasive in many parts of the United States, including Pennsylvania.

How to Identify a Stink Bug

Identifying a stink bug is relatively easy due to its distinctive appearance. They typically have a shield-shaped body, ranging in color from brown to gray, with alternating light and dark bands on their antennae and edges of their abdomen. When disturbed or crushed, stink bugs emit a foul-smelling odor as a defense mechanism, hence their name.

Do Stink Bugs Bite?

Unlike mosquitoes or fleas, stink bugs do not feed on blood. Instead, they use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to extract sap from plants, making them more of a nuisance than a threat.

In rare cases, they might bite a human or pet, which is very unlikely.

Are Stink Bugs Dangerous to Humans or Pets?

In general, stink bugs are not considered dangerous to humans or pets. While their odor can be unpleasant and may cause mild irritation if inhaled or ingested, stink bugs pose no significant health risks. However, some individuals may be allergic to stink bug secretions, resulting in skin irritation or respiratory symptoms.

Do Stink Bugs Eat Flowers or Vegetables?

Yes, most stink bugs are herbivorous insects that feed on a wide range of plants, including flowers, fruits, and vegetables. They pierce the plant’s tissue with their mouthparts and suck out the sap, causing damage to crops and ornamental plants. Common targets for stink bugs include tomatoes, peppers, beans, and apples.

Is it Bad if My Pet Ate a Stink Bug?

While it’s not ideal for pets to ingest stink bugs, it’s unlikely to cause serious harm. Stink bugs are not toxic to dogs or cats, and ingestion typically results in mild gastrointestinal upset at the worst. However, if your pet experiences persistent vomiting, diarrhea, or other concerning symptoms after ingesting a stink bug, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for advice.

Do Stink Bugs Carry Disease?

Unlike mosquitoes or ticks, stink bugs are not known to transmit diseases to humans or animals. Their primary concern is agricultural damage rather than public health. However, their presence indoors can be a nuisance and may trigger allergies or respiratory issues in sensitive individuals.

Do Stink Bugs Damage Property?

While stink bugs do not pose a direct threat to property like termites or rodents, their presence indoors can be problematic. When stink bugs invade homes in large numbers, they can stain walls, curtains, and upholstery with their secretions. Additionally, their foul-smelling odor can permeate indoor spaces, making them unpleasant to live with.

When Are Stink Bugs Most Active?

Stink bugs are most active between the spring and fall seasons and may be spotted outside near crops and vegetables. During the fall, some stink bugs may migrate to your home to seek warmth from the cold weather.

Tips to Manage Stink Bugs Properly

If you want to avoid finding stink bugs snacking on your crops or entering your home, we have a few tips that may help.

  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home for cracks, gaps, and openings where stink bugs could enter. Seal any potential entry points with caulk or weatherstripping to prevent them from gaining access indoors.
  • Install Screens: Install screens on windows, doors, and vents to keep stink bugs from entering your home while still allowing for ventilation.
  • Remove Attractants: Keep outdoor lights off at night, as stink bugs are attracted to light sources. Additionally, avoid overripe fruits or vegetables indoors, as they can attract stink bugs looking for food.
  • Vacuum Regularly: Use a vacuum cleaner to remove stink bugs from indoor surfaces and dispose of the bag or contents promptly to prevent the odor from spreading.
  • Consult Professionals: If you’re dealing with a severe stink bug infestation, consider hiring a pest control company with experience in managing these pests. They can provide targeted treatments to eliminate stink bugs and prevent future invasions.

Learn more about how to keep stink bugs away.


While stink bugs may be a nuisance to deal with, they are generally not dangerous to humans or pets. By understanding their behavior and implementing effective management strategies, you can minimize their impact on your home and property. Remember to seal entry points, remove attractants, and consult professionals if needed to keep stink bugs at bay.