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The Accidental Entomologist - Cockroaches, Stinkbugs, Oh My!

Yahoo likes this site more than Google does. How do I know this? Looking at my webserver log I can see what search queries led them to this page. Ever since I wrote a post about Johanna Rothman's disparaging the use of the term "bug" for defects it seems that about half of the searches are about African Millipedes and the like. For example today someone was searching for the difference between cockroaches and stinkbugs. To use this to find out how the different search engines like me I plugged the search into Yahoo and my site is number 3. I can't even find where I end up on Google.

But I feel bad when someone comes here with a question that isn't answered so here is my best effort at answering it. May it be useful in the future:

Cockroaches are members of the order Blattodea. Within this order there are 6 families Blattidae, Cryptocercidae, Polyphagidae, Nocticolidae, Blattellidae, and Blaberidae. Within the Blattidae family is the familiar and despised Periplaneta americana or "American Cockroach".All cockroaches have the following characteristics:

  • Oval and flattened body shape
  • Thorax covered by a large plate (the pronotum), which extends partly over the head
  • Chewing (mandibulate) mouthparts
  • Compound eyes and 2 simple ocelli-like spots
  • 2 pairs of membranous wings when present. Forewings are more sclerotised than hind wings. Wings are folded left over right when at rest
  • Prominent cerci
  • Long antennae

    Stink bugs are in the Family Pentatomidae. This is part of the sub-order Heteroptera, also known as "true bugs". True bugs all have

  • Sucking mouths
  • Flat and soft bodies (most commonly)
  • Forewings are tough on the base area and have membranous tips.
  • Antennae are well developed with up to five segments.

    Most of them are from small to medium size. Most species of true bugs have stink glands. These glands usually give off a foul odor when the insect is disturbed. All of them suck juice from plants or other insects.

    Stink bugs are distinguished from other true bugs by their 3rd thorax, or the triangular scutellum, which is well extended to cover half of their back, but not covering the whole abdomen. Their legs are thin and with no spines. The antennae are four or five segmented. Their body are usually in shield-shaped. Nymphs look similar to their adults except they are wingless.

    Hmmm... I didn't know that about true bugs. Personally I think true bugs are cuter and more cuddly than cockroaches. Cockroaches seem to be quite interesting and perhaps more complex, but also more prone to riding Harley Davidsons. I'll have to check into where the ladybug falls into the scheme of things. They are cuter than either and do a good job of munching aphids. Kind of a best-of-both-worlds bug.

    If you have any other questions you want answered leave a comment and I'll do my best to find an answer. That is unless your question is stupid and boring.

    (Note: There is tons of bug data on the web. Plug the order or family names in the article above into any search engine and you will find more details than you ever wanted. Or you might end up here.)


    Comments (4)

    Map Ives:

    I actually have a question on African stinkbugs (shieldbugs ?) During the southern African summer we have periodic outbreaks of a small, black, hard shelled bug, which emits a foul odour when disturbed or touched. This fellow is about 5mm long and is almost round to oval in shape and can fly. Usually in the evenings it can be attracted to light in numbers in the tens of thousand making the room unihabitable. We are situated in a completely wild area with no agriculture, but have an extensive natural wetland nearby. I would like to know if you have any idea as to the identity of this person? What sort of plant it may suck on and what preys on it naturally.

    I have searched the internet without seeing any decent refernces to south central African shield bugs. Most are for Europe or North America.

    Thanks ond onwards

    Map Ives.


    IE you were #5, but first concerning insects in my search for stinkbug. Very interesting...too short though on the stinkbug. I agree about the Harley part though! Good read. Have any suggestions on getting stink bugs outta the house? I have been infested with the damned things and hate to use poison, for have to much wildlife and pets abounding...thanks

    Susan Brasseur:

    Hi! I have but one question and that is how do you get rid of stinkbugs. I am working in a group home and we are having a real problem with stinkbugs. We are spraying RAID around the baseboards of the basement and other areas of the home but it does not seem to be working for us. These bugs have been with us for about 2 weeks now. Is there anything that you can suggest?
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Susan Brasseur
    Atikokan, Ontario

    Cata Beltran:

    If RAID does not work, go to the pharmacy and purchase BORIC ACID. Hopefully it will work on stinkbugs as well as it eliminates ROACHES!

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