Man-faced stink bugs are one of the most unique species in the insect world. With their distinct appearance, these bugs are easily identified by the facial markings on their back. From their breeding habits to their impact on the environment, let’s find out more interesting man-faced stink bug facts.
1. They look like a man’s face
The man-faced stink bug, also known as the Hitler bug, is a stink bug species discovered in 1778 by British entomologist Dru Drury. The bug resembles a human face, this distinctive appearance gives them the name.
Man-faced stink bugs can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, red, and cream. These vibrant colors serve as a warning to predators that the bugs are dangerous or taste bad.
These stink bugs have two pairs of large black spots on their body. The first pair is located on the triangular scutellum behind the head, while the second pair is on their forewings. Dark patches exist near the tips of the forewings as well. These patterns create a human face on top of these bugs.
This unusual face design could also serve as a defense mechanism. The pseudo-eyespots divert attention away from their fragile head. Besides the appearance features, these man-faced stink bugs also protect themselves by congregating in large groups (about hundreds).
These species have a hardened thorax extension, the scutellum, which covers and protects their abdomen. The bug is about the size of a knuckle.
2. Habitat and Distribution
Man-faced stink bugs live in Africa (Madagascar), Oceania, South and Southeast Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia). They are also found in New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea.
3. They are notorious pests
Like other stink bugs, the man-faced stink bugs are infamous pests due to their tendency to feed on the fruit and tender shoots of plants. These bugs don’t do this alone. They do this in huge groups by emitting their pheromones to attract other stink bugs to come and join.
They often gather in hundreds and pose a threat to crops like cotton, corn, soybean, cashew trees, etc. India reported widespread damage, with 400 – 500 bugs found on a Delonix regia branch and with 300 bugs on a single cashew tree. The frustrating aspect is that these bugs are often pesticide resistant.
4. Life Cycle
After mating, female man-faced stink bugs lay a big number of pink eggs on leaves. When the eggs hatch, wingless nymphs emerge with a green pastel color. As they grow older, their color changes to one of four shades: cream, orange, red, or yellow.
During their development, the man-faced stink bug nymphs go through a process called molting where they shed their outer covering to make room for their expanding bodies. This molting process can occur up to five times before they reach adulthood. Each stage of the molting process is referred to as an “instar.” At the final instar, the man-faced stink bugs will develop their wings.
Both adults and nymphs cause damage by draining the sap of new shoots, destroying leaves, and leading fruits to decay due to subsequent microbial invasions.