The spined soldier bug is a species of beetle native to North America. They are often referred to as stink bugs because they produce a foul odor when disturbed or killed. However, their name actually refers to the bright red coloration of the abdomen, which resembles a spiked collar around its neck. These beetles have been found in gardens throughout the world including Europe and Asia where they were once used as ornamental plants.
What Is A Spined Soldier Bug?
A spined soldier bug is a large, brownish-red insect with two pairs of legs. Its body measures up to 2 inches long (5 cm) and 1/2 inch wide (4 mm). The head is yellow with black markings and it has four eyes arranged in three rows along the back. There are six segments on each side of the thorax from front to back. The first segment is longer than the second and the last one is shorter than the other three.
How Do You Identify Spined Soldier Bugs?
Spined soldiers are commonly known as stink bugs because they emit a foul odor when disturbed or killed. However, these insects do not smell bad at all; rather, their bodies are reddened due to a chemical reaction between carbon dioxide produced during respiration and sulfur compounds present in their blood. This process is known as respiratory acidosis.
The spined soldier bug prefers to live and feed on the leaves of plants rather than on sap or flowers, although it will consume honeydew. They are engorged with blood and turn a deep red color when they have recently fed. Pregnant females lay their eggs in clusters on the undersides of leaves, usually on the edges of a host plant. Nymphs that hatch from the eggs must feed immediately.
These insects are found throughout North America, and in parts of southern Canada. They are readily identified by their ‘spikes’ along the back and bright red coloring. The spined soldier bug is actually a member of the leaf-footed bugs family, which includes the larger and more intimidating giant bug. It is among the largest species of plant-sucking bug found in North America.
Spined Soldier vs. Stink Bug
Although these bugs are often called ‘stink bugs’, this is a misnomer. They produce a foul, rotten odor when squashed but they do not emit an unpleasant smell otherwise. The chemical that causes the odor is also found in certain types of mushrooms, which is where the stink bug gets its name.
The spined soldier bug is one of the most common and widespread species of shield bug in North America. These insects are found throughout the continent, including south-western Canada. They can often be found on the edges of fields, forests, gardens and other rural areas where they like to sunbathe. They also like to perch on trees and plants.
Spined soldier bugs are not known to attack humans or animals despite their ominous appearance. However, they can cause damage to crops when they congregate in large numbers and feed on plant foliage.
Sources & references used in this article:
Genetic variation in field and laboratory populations of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris by K Kneeland, TA Coudron, E Lindroth… – Entomologia …, 2012 – Wiley Online Library
Genetic variability of spined soldier bugs (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) sampled from distinct field sites and laboratory colonies in the United States by F Mustafa, MI Ullah, KM Kneeland, TA Coudron… – Florida …, 2014 – BioOne
Essential oils as spatial repellents for the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) by QH Zhang, RG Schneidmiller… – Journal of applied …, 2014 – Wiley Online Library
Synthetic pheromones for the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris by JR Aldrich – US Patent 4,600,581, 1986 – Google Patents
Bug Biz: Spined Soldier Bug by R Diaz – lsuagcenter.com
SITES AND LABORATORY COLONIES IN THE UNITED STATES by D ol Entomology – Florida Entomologist, 2014 – researchgate.net
Beneficial Insects by RA Grantham, DC Arnold – 2013 – shareok.org
Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control by J Walliser – 2013 – books.google.com