Stinkbugs

Pentatomidae. Spanish: Conchuelas (General). Portuguese: Persevejos do mato, Marias fetidas (Brazil).

As their name implies, stinkbugs have well-developed and very effective repugna-torial glands and are known as much by their smell as by their physical attributes. Among the latter are a broadly oval or shield-shaped body with a large, triangular central plate (scutellum) in the middle of the back. The lateral corners of the prothorax and posterolateral corners of the abdominal segments are often prolonged or sharp pointed. The legs are always simple and similar in size and length. Most are plain colored, green or brown, but some, especially in the immature stages, are painted in bright hues of red, blue, and yellow (pi. Id).

Both the nymphs and adults suck sap and may be very abundant on their host plants (Young 1984). The latter are found among diverse taxa. Because of their habits of feeding on cultivated plants, many species are pests. Such is the rice stinkbug (Oebalus poecilus; fig. 8.1e), the bane of rice in many areas (pulga d'anta, chupador, tamanjua). Other injurious species are the conchuela (Chlorochroa = Petidia ligata; fig. 8.If) and several members of the genus Euschistus and Mormidea. Some, however, are considered beneficial because they attack other insects which may be enemies of cultigens.

Nymphs, especially the younger instars, are often gregarious. Subsocial behavior is exhibited by the Colombian Antiteuchus trip-tents (Discocephalinae). Its females guard both their eggs and first instar nymphs against predators and parasitoid wasps of the family Scelionidae (Eberhard 1975).

Species of Pentatomidae (jumiles) are sold in the Mexican villages of Cuautla and Taxco for human consumption. Marketed live in paper cones in handful lots, they have a piquant taste and are believed to alleviate liver, kidney, and stomach ailments when ingested (orig. obs., Ancona 1932, 1933).

There are more than a thousand species of stinkbugs in some ninety genera in South America alone.

References

Ancona, L. 1932. Los jumiles de Taxco (Gro.), Atizies taxcoensis, spec. nov. Inst. Biol. Univ. Mexico Anal. 4: 149-162. Ancona, L. 1933. Los jumiles de Cuautla, Euschistus zopilotensis Distant. Inst. Biol. Univ. Mexico Anal. 4: 103-108. Eberhard, W. G. 1975. The ecology and behavior of a subsocial pentatomid bug and two scelionid wasps: Strategy and counter strategy in a host and its parasites. Smithsonian Contrib. Zool. 205: 1-39.

Young, A. M. 1984. Phenological patterns in reproduction of Senna fructicosa (Mill.) Irwin and Barneby (Caesalpinaceae) and a pod associate, Pellaea sticta (Dallas) (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae), in Costa Rican tropical rain forest. Kans. Entomol. Soc. J. 57: 413-422.

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