Science Snippet: Stinky Bugs


Not all bugs are bugs. True bugs, as defined by entomologists, belong to the insect order Hemiptera (which means half-winged). In the fall, lots of true bugs show up in and around our homes. Usually these are of two types: Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs or other bugs belonging to a group called Reduviidae. The stink bugs are an import from China, first discovered in 1991. Crush one of these and your nose will think you have been “skunked.” The odor is overwhelmingly foul. Reduviid bugs are more common and even in February you may occasionally see one walking slowly along a wall or baseboard in your house. Crush one of these in a Kleenex and take a whiff. The stink is almost as bad as that from a real Stink Bug. Both stinks are part of the defense mechanisms of these bugs, just as a skunk uses a foul-smelling spray to defend itself. (Author’s notes)

Article Comments