Sometimes a blog topic is brought directly to the nature center – as is the case this week. The pictured insects were brought to us for identification. This person was wondering if they were possibly behind the damage to her linden tree. Here is what was learned upon further inspection of these insects and some research into their life cycle.
All of the insects pictured are green stink bugs (Chinavia halaris). The all green bug is an adult, and the three others are in the 5th instar nymph stage of development (that means they are almost adults). Stink bugs feed on seeds, grain, nuts and fruit of many plant species during all the nymph stages as well as adult. Both have mouth parts that can pierce fruits and seeds and also suck fluids from the plants. They will inject digestive enzymes into food, which liquefies what is inside. Then they will suck the juices from that fruit or seed.
Mating occurs during the first warm days of spring. Eggs are usually found attached to the underside of leaves in clusters. When they hatch about a week later, the new nymphs are mostly black and have oval-shaped bodies. It will take about a month to go through the 5 instar stages before adulthood. If the weather stays warm, an adult may live about two months.
They do serve a purpose in the natural world as prey for many other animals. These include many birds, toads, spiders, and even other insects. There are even some animals that are parasites to the green stink bug.
So if you happen to see these little guys in your yard or garden, there is likely no reason for concern. They do not typically cause large-scale destruction of gardens.