Brown Stink Bug

John Van Duyn, North Carolina State University, Entomology Extension Specialist

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Brown stink bug adult
Stink bug damaged seedling
Brown stink bug feeding at base of seedling
Stink bug damage on inner leaf sheath of seedling
Stink bug feeding punctures on inner leaf sheath of larger corn plant
Stink bug feeding on immature ear
Stink bug feeding on near mature ear

The brown stink bug (Euschistus servus) is the primary grass feeding stink bug in North Carolina and can be commonly found in wheat and corn fields. They infest many wild hosts and other crops, including broadleaf crops such as soybean and cotton. Bugs feed by piercing the plant with their mosquito-like mouth parts and suck plant juices. During the season brown stink bug will feed on all plant parts but prefer seedlings and developing grain. Seedlings can be deformed and killed and grain may be aborted from the ears. Damaged ears often crook away from the plant stem as a result of aborted grain (and lack of ear elongation) on the outside ear surface. Feeding on leaves and stems leave discolored and deformed stippled spots on the plant surface.

Brown stink bug feeding can be a severe problem in seedling corn. Bugs feed at the base of seedlings and cause tissue death at or near the growing point (meristem). Damaged plants will die or sucker if the growing point is killed. Stink bug damaged plants may be deformed and show bands of holes in the leaves, much like billbug damage. When stink bug numbers are high, seedling loss can be severe. High stink bug populations in seedling corn are confined to no-tillage corn planted into soybean/wheat stubble, small grain cover crop, or failed small grain crop (e.g. freeze damaged wheat). In these situations, scouting for seedling pests will detect economically-damaging stink bug populations ( see Scouting for seedling insects).

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This page ( was created by John W. Van Duyn Ph D. Extension Entomologist and Wayne Modlin , and Steven Roberson. Date Created 1/30/01.
Last revised on 1/30/04.

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

CAUTION: The information and recommendations in these Notes were developed for North Carolina conditions and may not apply elsewhere.