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Southern green stink bug

Q. My son brought me this green bug. Can you identify it for me?

Q. My son brought me this green bug and I have no idea if it is good or bad. It was about the size of my index fingernail and he found it in my vegetable garden. Can you identify it for me?

A. What your son found was probably a southern green stink bug, which belongs to the order Hemiptera or “true bugs.” As you may have already concluded, it often puts out a foul odor when destroyed. This insect pest has piercing-sucking mouth structures which it uses to ingest the juices from all parts of the plant. The damage on fruit from the punctures is hard brownish or black spots. These punctures affect the fruit’s edible qualities and lower its market value. However, the fruit from our home gardens can be eaten. Young fruit growth is slowed and it often withers and drops from the plant.

The southern green stinkbug often destroys vegetable crops during its young nymph stage of life therefore this pest is costly to many Florida vegetable growers. In addition, the tomato bacteria spot is transmitted by the southern green stinkbug. However, all stink bugs are not harmful; in fact some are beneficial to us because they prey on other harmful insects. Generally the “good” predator stink bugs will have pointed “shoulders” on their bodies.