Halyomorpha halys or Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The brown marmorated stink bug, Halymorpha halys is an insect pest that has recently been attracting a lot of interest from both researchers and concerned farmers. Much of this interest has been in North America but as this pest is now beginning to spread through Europe, there is going to be a greater demand for information on this pest and suitable products for its control. Below, we give a brief summary of this pest, why there is a growing concern and what options there are for farmers to safeguard their crops.

Identifying Halymorpha halys

H halys idLike all shield or stink bugs adult H. halys are shield shaped with a long piercing-sucking rostrum or mouth part which is tucked underneath the body when not feeding. The common name of "brown marmorated stink bug" stems from the marble like pattern present on the head, pronotum and legs. The four most important features to look out for are:

O - The last two antennal segments possess both white and black bands.

O - The edges of the abdomen are patterned with alternating black triangles with white.

O - The edges of the pronotum (plate behind the head) are smooth and untoothed.      

O Blue-green depressions with a metallic sheen, present on head and shoulders.

The adults are ca. 17mm long with a pale whitish underside, often with grey or black markings. Leg colour is variable from brown to black, but usually with faint pale banding.

The nymphs of this species differ in shape and colouration. For a visual guide to these earlier life stages, see www.stopbmsb.org


Native to China, Japan, Taiwan and North and South Korea, the brown marmorated stink bug has now invaded mid-Atlantic America (40 states), Switzerland, Germany, Lichenstein and France. Ecological niche modelling suggests that this pest will be able to infest areas of Northern and Central Europe, Southern Australia and some countries in Africa and South America.

H Halys distribution


Economic Impact

The brown marmorated stink bug is an outbreak pest in its native range. When conditions allow populations to increase beyond the control of natural enemies these pests can do a great deal of damage to crops. In Northern America where there is less predation from natural enemies these pests have been able to proliferate and spread (see distribution above). This culminated in a population explosion in 2010 causing severe crop losses to fruits, vegetables and field crops such as sweet corn and soybeans.

The brown marmorated stink bug is highly polyphagous, happy to feed on orchard fruits, vegetables, field crops and ornamental plants, in addition to native vegetation such as trees. During outbreak years in Asia it can cause significant damage to a variety of economically important crops such as apples, pears, peaches, soybeans and grapes. During the 2010 explosion in the mid-Atlantic region of the USA, severe crop losses were reported in apples, peaches, sweet corn, peppers and field crops including wheat and soybeans. Puncture wounds produced by feeding stink bugs result in blemishes and discolouration of fruit, scarring and deformation of pods, collapse of small berries and kernels and collapse of buds in growing plants. These feeding wounds also expose their hosts to secondary infestation by pathogens and other pests.

The problems this pest causes are twofold; in addition to the considerable damage these bugs can cause to a wide range of crops, they also have a habit of aggregating in great numbers within manmade structures to overwinter. Most homeowners are likely to object to a horde of brown bugs sharing their living space, especially when they begin to stain walls and curtains with their frass, and when disturbed produce odours that make those smelly socks appear quite aromatic in comparison. Consider the poor homeowner in Western Maryland, whose house was infested with over 26,000 individuals, that chose to appear in a gradual tide between January and June 2011.

Monitoring and Control

As yet, pheromones used by brown marmorated stink bugs remain unidentified, although this may not be the case for much longer. We know that these pests are attracted to a pheromone produced by a different stink bug, which it may be able to detect and use for itself to help locate suitable hibernation sites. International Pheromone Systems are able to provide attractant lures using this chemical, which is, at the moment the most efficient method of monitoring and controlling this pest.

More Information

For monitoring & control products or for further information, use the form on our contact us page or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further resources for the brown marmorated stink bug can be found here:

http://www.stopbmsb.org/ - A host of information regarding this pest

References used to produce this article are given below:

Lee, D.-H., Short, B.D., Joseph, S.V., Bergh, J.C. & Leskey, T.C. (2013) Review of the Biology, Ecology, and Management of Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) in China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. Environmental Entomology, 42, 627–641.

Leskey, T.C., Hamilton, G.C., Nielsen, A.L., Polk, D.F., Rodriguez-Saona, C., Bergh, J.C., Herbert, D.A., Kuhar, T.P., Pfeiffer, D., Dively, G.P., Hooks, C.R.R., Raupp, M.J., Shrewsbury, P.M., Krawczyk, G., Shearer, P.W., Whalen, J., Koplinka-Loehr, C., Myers, E., Inkley, D., Hoelmer, K.A., Lee, D.-H. & Wright, S.E. (2012) Pest Status of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys in the USA. Outlooks on Pest Management, 23, 218–226.

Xu, J., Fonseca, D.M., Hamilton, G.C., Hoelmer, K.A. & Nielsen, A.L. (2014) Tracing the origin of US brown marmorated stink bugs, Halyomorpha halys. Biological Invasions, 16, 153–166.

Zhu, G., Bu, W., Gao, Y. & Liu, G. (2012) Potential Geographic Distribution of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Invasion (Halyomorpha halys). PLoS ONE, 7, e31246.






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