Back to top

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Identification

Effective Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Identification in Massachusetts

Elizabeth W. Garofalo, University of Massachusetts Extension Fruit Program

Dr. Jaime Piñero, UMass Extension Fruit Team, Stockbridge School of Agriculture


Being able to confidently identify Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) and distinguish it from other, similar, stink bugs is an important first step to managing this pest in the orchard. Many look-a-like insects are around the orchard. Some are pests, some prey on the damaging bugs.

There are many impostors in the landscape and the orchard. Below are three examples of bugs you may see that look like BMSB to one degree or another.

Consperse stink bug (Euschistus conspersus) may be more commonly mistaken for BMSB. The coloration is of the consperse stink bug is similar to BMSB. Consperse stink bug can have the scalloping (E) along the edges of its abdomen like BMSB, but this pattern is often not as distinct on the native brown bug. The shoulder are is another good way to tell the difference between the native consperse stink bug and invasive BMSB in that the native bug has more pointed shoulders (F). The antennae of the consperse stink bug lack the tell tale white bands (G) found on BMSB. Finally, native stink bugs tend to have yellow to green bellies whereas, BMSB has a brown to gray underbelly.

Rough stink bugs are in the genus Brochymena and do look much like BMSB, but with some significant differences. In the photo of the rough stink bug nymph above you see that while there are alternating black and white segments (D), the size and pattern differ from the clear alternating pattern seen on BMSB. There is also a red spot (D) on the legs of the rough stink bug not present on the BMSB. Additionally, the rough stink bug has a “tooth” (C) on each side of its head.

Leaf footed bug is a general name for bugs with a leaf shaped enlargement on the lower portion of the hind legs. Acanthocephala terminalis, pictured above, can also cause damage to fruits and other crops. The clearly delineated orange segment on the terminal portion of the antennae (A) leaf shape (B) are key characteristics to help distinguishing this leaf footed bug from BMSB.

The real star of this show, however, is unmistakable once you are comfortable picking out the key characteristics.

Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) has crawled its way into the consciousness of our daily lives. In some cases, this is from the annual home invasion that occurs in many places across the state. In others, it is the worry every autumn that this will be the year that BMSB populations reach critical mass in orchards- just in time for pick your own season. So far we have been lucky in that the state has not experienced widespread damage from stink bug, with the exception of a few unlucky apple blocks here and there. BMSB has several distinctive characteristic that, once you A B C D have seen them, can be used to confidently distinguish them form other bugs. Adults and nymphs both have clearly defined alternating dark and light color bands on their antennae and legs (A&B). Also, the adults have smooth edged and rounded “shoulders” (C). Whereas, native stink bug’s tend to have more pointed, and in some cases, rough edged shoulders. Finally, the distinct “scalloping” along the edges of the abdomen (D) can help determine that the insect in question is a BMSB.

Characteristic symptoms of late-season feeding injury by stink bugs on apple are:

  • The edge of the depression on the fruit surface from stink bug feeding is gradual
  • The corky flesh is always immediately beneath the skin in stink bug damage
  • There is always a puncture site from stink bug feeding
  • Feeding damage can occur anywhere on the apple or may be most common around the shoulder.

This publication was funded in part by Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), under award number AR0000000010769. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of MDAR and USDA NIFA Extension Implementation Program, grant no. 2-14-70000622578/project accession no. 1005350.


Consperse stink bug (Euschistus conspersus)
Rough stink bugs
Leaf footed bug
Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys)
Stink bug injury to apple (left) VS bitter pit (right).
Stink bug feeding damage on peach; Left: damage occurred while fruit was still growing.  Right: fresh feeding damage as ripening gets underway.
Last Updated: 
October 2019