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It can be startling when an otherwise inconspicuous little black bug releases a foul odor when squished.
This is actually a defense mechanism some bugs employ to deter predators. The stench alerts predators that the bug tastes terrible too.
Many household insects and bugs found commonly in yards and gardens emit smelly odors, secretions, or sprays when killed or threatened.
These bugs may be small but can make their presence known even after being squashed through their lasting, stinky odor.
This article will look at some of the most common little black bugs that smell when squished.
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Little Black Bugs That Smell When Squished
While most little black bugs are harmless, there are some that can emit a foul odor when crushed or threatened.
Here are some of the most common little black bugs known for their stink when squashed.
Stink bugs are very common household pests that emit a foul, long-lasting smell when squished or threatened.
There are various species of stink bugs found across North America. Some of the most prevalent include.
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Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
- This is the most common stink bug found in the US.
- It has a brownish color that camouflages it against tree bark.
- When disturbed, scent glands on its abdomen release an unpleasant odor.
Rough Stink Bug
- As its name suggests, this species has a rough, bumpy appearance on its shoulders and neck.
- It closely resembles the brown marmorated but can be identified by the four humps between its neck and shoulders.
Dusky Stink Bug
- The dusky variety has rounded shoulders and a crescent-shaped bottom.
- The stench it emits when threatened is overwhelming.
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- Squash bugs look very similar to stink bugs in their shape and shield-like bodies.
- They too give off a foul, stinky odor when crushed or disturbed.
- This serves as a defense to deter predators.
- Squash bugs feed on squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and other melons in gardens.
- Leaf-footed bugs are larger cousins of the stink bug.
- When feeling threatened, they can emit an especially potent, foul-smelling liquid from scent glands on their bodies.
- This helps repel predators tempted to eat them.
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- Like stink bugs, kissing bugs produce a foul odor when disturbed.
- Their stink serves as a defense mechanism.
- Kissing bugs get their name because they like to bite humans around the mouth and eyes.
- Their bite can transmit Chagas disease.
- Boxelder bugs are nuisance insects that get their name from feeding on boxelder trees.
- They don’t give off much odor when squished.
- But they can release a musky, distasteful scent from oil glands on their body when disturbed.
- Wheel bugs have a pair of bright reddish-orange scent glands visible on their abdomen.
- Wheel bugs get their name from their wheel-like cogged appearance.
- These were once thought to emit a foul smell, but actually produce a mildly pleasant scent, mainly used to attract mates. (Only the adult females have these.)
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Western Conifer Seed Bugs
- Western Conifer Seed Bugs do not have much of an odor when crushed.
- These bugs occasionally invade homes by the hundreds seeking shelter.
- They are considered a nuisance pest but do not bite or cause any harm to humans.
- The only issue is the sheer number that may appear inside, though they do not reproduce indoors.
- They are often mistaken for boxelder bugs given their similar appearance.
Asian Lady Beetles
- The fluid has a foul, acidic odor that deters predators from eating them.
- Asian lady beetles were originally introduced to North America to control crop pests.
- But they have become a nuisance invader, especially as they enter homes in large numbers in autumn seeking warmth.
- When threatened, bombardier beetles spray a boiling hot, foul-smelling liquid from their abdomens with an audible popping sound.
- This is created by a chemical reaction within their specialized glands and serves to deter predators.
- Cockroaches have a generalized musty, unpleasant smell to them, mainly coming from their droppings and secretions.
- When directly crushed they do not release much additional odor.
- However, they still elicit disgust and many homeowners do not appreciate their presence.
- Their odor permeates any area of the home they infest.
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- Ants themselves do not have much smell when directly crushed or squished.
- However, they produce pheromones that communicate with their colony and alert others when the ant is in danger.
- To humans, these chemical ant pheromones give off an unpleasant odor often described as smelling like rotten coconut.
- So while the individual ant does not smell, their trails and nests have a distinctive, sour odor that signals a larger ant problem.
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- Earwigs are not especially smelly insects on their own.
- However, when squished or crushed directly, they can release a foul odor from glands in their abdomen.
- This serves to deter predators tempted to eat them. The potent smell only lasts briefly but is enough to send a clear warning
- Earwigs also produce pheromones that smell unpleasant to humans, giving their nesting areas and trails a distinct, sour smell.
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Do Bed Bugs Stink When You Kill Them?
Bed bugs are sneaky pests that feed on blood while people sleep. They can be difficult to detect because they hide so well in mattresses and furniture. Some may wonder – do bed bugs stink when you kill them?
On an individual level, not really. Squashing a single bed bug does not release much odor.
However, killing off a large infestation of bed bugs can cause a musty, sweet stench to arise. This is caused by a chemical called histamine that builds up in their feces.
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The more bed bugs that are killed, the more concentrated the histamine odor becomes. To some, it is a mildly pleasant smell similar to coriander.
But at higher concentrations, many find the scent quite unpleasant and overpowering. The smell only lasts about 10 minutes before fading away.
So while a few dead bed bugs may not smell, exterminating a full-blown infestation of them can make a room reek for a short while from the histamine.
Does Killing Stink Bugs Attract More
When stink bugs release their foul-smelling odor, it does not attract more stink bugs to the area. The stench is meant to deter predators, not signal other bugs.
Stink bugs themselves have a poor sense of smell and cannot pick up on the odor from far away.
The emissions are localized defense mechanisms, not pheromones to gather more stink bugs. They do not give off a scent that travels far or communicates with others.
The point of the stink is simply to make themselves less appetizing to potential predators. It causes anything trying to eat them to back off quickly. But it does not contain any kind of bug signal to convene.
While humans may find the odor bothersome, rest assured that squashing or killing stink bugs will not cause more to arrive.
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While most small household bugs are harmless, some varieties have evolved defense mechanisms to deter predators.
Stink bugs, squash bugs, and leaf-footed bugs are just a few of the tiny black bugs that release foul odors when disturbed or squished.
Other critters like earwigs and ladybugs can also emit unpleasant smells when threatened.
It’s understandable to feel disgusted when an inconspicuous bug you kill unleashes a lasting stench. But it is simply the bug’s way of avoiding becoming someone’s dinner. The smell helps ensure the survival of its species.
If you notice a recurring infestation of smelly bugs in your house or yard, take steps to seal cracks and properly store food.
This can help deny them easy entry and food sources. With some diligence, you can send the stinky insects packing.
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What are the tiny bugs that smell when squished?
Some common tiny bugs that smell when squished include stink bugs, squash bugs, leaf-footed bugs, earwigs, and Asian lady beetles.
Are black stink bugs harmful?
Black stink bugs are not harmful or dangerous to humans. Their foul smell is just a defense mechanism and they do not spread any diseases. However, some species can be agricultural pests.
Does it stink when you kill a stink bug?
Yes, stink bugs release an unpleasant, long-lasting odor when crushed or killed.
Why do bed bugs stink when you kill them?
A large infestation of bed bugs gives off an odor when killed due to the build-up of histamines in their feces.
Resources – (for further reading)
Maine.gov – Stink Bugs: Got Pests?
Science Direct – Spatial distribution of histamine in bed bug-infested homes
The Ohio State University – Brown Marmorated Stink Bug – Ohioline