The dark black and red colors of the Florida Predatory Stink Bug warn of a hidden, internal defense that makes them unappealing to eat and unwanted roommates. They are fabulous friends in their natural habitat, however. The immensely varied diet of the Florida Predatory Stink Bug helps reduce the number of plant-, produce-, and seed-eaters. They have a dagger like appendage at the front of the face that stabs insects they encounter, whereupon they eat them. Leaf-chomping grasshoppers, root-nibbling earwigs, flower-chewing beetles, and other nemeses to growers are devoured in large numbers. Unfortunately, sometimes less offensive plant visitors like dragonflies and wasps that parasitize harmful caterpillars may also be eaten. Their nymphs (juveniles) are just as adept at hunting as the adult form, though they may attack in a group, or a team, in order to overtake bigger insects.
Nymphs and adults do not look the same. A nymph is black with a red abdomen that has three black dashes, or bars, across it. The black upper body may be matte-finished, or have a blue-black, metallic sheen. The thick black bars on the back may merge into a black blob. The head and thorax are smaller than the round and wide abdomen. As they mature, they molt and change shape and pattern. Nymphs are often seen in large groups on a plant, evoking concern if they are not properly recognized. Adults are black with a pentagon-shaped body that resembles a long shield. Three red dots form a triangle on the center of the back. Red peeks out from under the black armor on both sides with black dashes near the edges. Some instars (young life stages) may be more orange than red, and have connected dots at the top of the triangle. Newly hatched nymphs are completely red. Looks for circular, dark brown eggs in clusters on plant leaves.
Two broods are produced each year and adults may be active all year in warm regions. In cooler areas, adults will overwinter, preferring the warmth of a building. They may hide in crevices and walls, but some may venture into living and working spaces. Removing them without smashing them is the best course of action to prevent staining on walls or furniture. Despite its inability to differentiate between friendly and troublesome bugs in a garden or field, the Florida Predatory Stink Bug is a beneficial insect to have around outside because it does more good than harm.
General Characteristics Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Florida Predatory Stink Bug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Florida Predatory Stink Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.