These insects are typically green or brown, .5” long, and are often in the shape of a trapezoidal shield, giving the family their other common name “shield bugs”.
Like other pest Hemipterans, these insects feed on plant sap with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. They can greatly weaken plants especially if the population is large.
They are generally dormant during winter and most active during the spring. However, greenhouse conditions can cause year round activity.
Everywhere except Antarctica! Many have also become incredibly invasive in their non-native habitats.
Stink bugs prefer crop plants such as fruits, corn, squash, beans, and you guessed it…. Tomatoes!
Physical removal is a good first step to prevent a large infestation. You may release these at your local state park or dispose of them as you see fit. Please remember they can give off a foul odor so wear gloves! Pull nearby weeds to also discourage egg laying. Spraying plants with an insecticidal soap or oil can not only kill the insects but prevent their eggs from sticking to the plant. If a large infestation occurs and you resort to using pesticides, please be mindful of where and how you disperse the product. Most are very toxic to not only people and pets, but wildlife including the good bugs that might be able to control some of your future pest outbreaks.
While some stink bugs are known to be huge pests, most do not reach dense enough populations to be considered a large threat. Also, apparently some are quite tasty. Several countries regularly eat them… YUM.