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How To Tell Stink Bugs & Kissing Bugs Apart

Picture of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Types of Stink Bugs and Kissing Bugs

There are about 10 species of kissing bugs found in the U.S., with two of the more common being the conenose bug, Triatoma sanguisuga (LeConte), and the western bloodsucking conenose bug, Triatoma protracta (Uhler).

There are many species of stink bugs, but the one most likely to become a nuisance is the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

Do stink bugs or kissing bugs bite?

Both BMSBs and kissing bugs have piercing/sucking mouthparts, but only kissing bugs bite people, pets, and other animals. Stink bugs do not bite humans or animals.

What do stink bugs vs. kissing bugs look like?

BMSBs have a shield-shaped body that is about ½ - ⅝ inches long. They are mottled brown, grey, and light black in color, and they have white segments on their antennae. They have two pairs of wings that are held flat over their back, and the outer edge of their abdomen is exposed since their wings do not completely cover their body. Their head is blunt and less elongated than the kissing bug’s head.

Kissing bugs are commonly called conenose bugs because of the shape of their cone-shaped heads. These insects are about ¾ - 1 inch long, are dark brown or black in color, and some species have red, yellow, or tan markings on the abdomen. Kissing bug legs are long and thin, and their mouthparts extend well beyond their heads.

What do stink bugs or kissing bugs eat?

Stink Bug Diet

BMSBs prefer to feed on soybeans and fruit, and have an affinity for apple, citrus, and peach fruit trees. They have been found breeding and feeding on apples, peaches, blackberries, tomatoes, corn, soybeans, lima beans, and green peppers. Stink bugs also feed on the leaves of many ornamental plants.

Kissing Bug Diet

Kissing bugs feed exclusively on the blood they get from their vertebrate host animals. Some of their food sources are wild and domestic animals such as:

  • Rodents

  • Raccoons

  • Opossums

  • Domestic dogs

  • Sometimes people

What is the life cycle of stink bugs and kissing bugs?

Both of these insects develop by changing from eggs, to nymphs, and then to adults. Adults have well-developed wings and are strong fliers, but the immature nymphs of both insects are wingless.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Life Cycle

BMSBs develop through three life stages – eggs, nymphs, and adults. The life cycle of BMSBs generally involves adults actively mating, reproducing, and feeding during the months of spring through late Fall. However, this insect is also very active before the onset of cold winter weather as they seek shelter to spend the winter in a dormant phase known as diapause.

Female stink bugs typically lay 20 to 30 eggs, which they secure on the underside of the host plant in the summer. Eggs hatch four to five days later and the nymphs begin to feed. They will then undergo a series of molts until they become adults in the fall.

BMSBs may overwinter in many places, some of which include outdoor debris piles, dead trees, and protected areas such as:

  • Attics

  • Storage areas

  • Basements

  • Behind siding

It is important to note that entering into diapause may not end their season of activity. If the weather warms up for long enough, indoor overwintering stink bugs might be misled into thinking it’s time to become active again. When this happens, homeowners are likely to see BMSBs flying around windows, doors, and other sources of light in hopes of making their way outdoors.

Where do stink bugs and kissing bugs live?

BMSBs are found where their preferred foods are grown in approximately 41 states.

Kissing bugs are common throughout the US, but can generally be found in the southern, southeastern, and southwestern states. Kissing bugs like to live near nests or resting areas of their hosts. These bugs may reside inside but usually, live outdoors.

Typical outdoor locations include:

  • Dog houses

  • Pet kennels

  • Underneath piles of rocks, wood, brush, and tree bark."

Are kissing bugs dangerous?

Kissing bugs will emerge from their daytime locations to take a blood meal during the night. They prefer to bite exposed skin, and some species of kissing bugs favor biting around a person’s face or close to the lips.

Bites to people are more or less without pain and usually do not wake a person who is asleep. Other bite sites are hands, arms, and feet.

Are stink bugs harmful?

Stink bugs feed on fruit, which causes a distortion of the fruit known as “cat facing.” This renders the damaged fruit worthless, or worth much less than standard market prices. BMSBs also feed on soybeans, which can dramatically reduce the yield of that crop.

Stink bugs also produce an unpleasant odor. For home and building owners, BMSBs become nuisances when they begin to seek shelter. They often gather on windows and walls looking for a way out of a building.

Kissing Bugs & Chagas Disease

Kissing Bugs can transmit Chagas disease, an emerging vector borne disease in the U.S and parts of Central and South America.

During or soon after a kissing bug takes a blood meal, the insect also defecates. A person who rubs the feces into a break in the skin, swallows kissing bug feces, or rubs feces into the eyes may become infected with the disease.

How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs or Kissing Bugs

The prevention of both BMSBs and kissing bugs is quite similar. Seal all entry points that might allow them to get inside, and minimize their available outdoor habitat. Also, removing clutter indoors is helpful, as it reduces the areas where they can go unseen.

While building construction and removal of habitat is valuable, sometimes that is not enough for your pest issues. In such circumstances, contact your Orkin exterminator for a free pest inspection. They will form a science-based prevention and control program to help get rid of stink bugs and kissing bugs on your property.


Stink Bugs Home Protection

I have stink bugs all around my house


I have stink bugs everywhere outside my house, and they are starting to come in my house. What can I do to get rid of them?

Why Do Stink Bugs Stink?

What Does a Stink Bug Look Like?

Can Stink Bugs Bite or Sting Humans?

Stink Bug Eating Habits

What Eats Stink Bugs?

Stink Bug Traps

Where Do Stink Bugs Come From?

Stink Bug Eggs

What are Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs?

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