Stink Bugs and Similar-Appearing Insects in Iowa

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is a recently-introduced, invasive insect found in the eastern USA. Several native or established insects in Iowa are similar in appearance to the BMSB. See the photos below to determine if you have BMSB in your home, landscape or field. Submit all suspect specimens to clinic (at no charge) by following the steps for Submitting an Insect Specimen.

Stink bugs and similar-appearing insects
Description Photo(s)

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

  • approximately 5/8 inch long
  • a mottled brownish grey color
  • "shield" shaped body
  • antennae with alternating light and dark bands
  • top of the abdominal segments protruding from beneath the wings with alternating dark and light bands.
  • Underside is pale in color

Photos from Ohio State University Extension

Brown Stink Bug

  • About 0.5 inch long
  • shield-shaped
  • grayish-yellow with dark punctures on the back
  • fourth and fifth antennal segments darker in color
  • front corners of thorax rounded to slightly pointed
  • underside with a pinkish tinge
Image of a brown stink bug.

Photo by Russ Ottens, University of Georgia,

Spined Soldier Bug

  • About 0.5 inch long, but variable
  • Color varies from yellowish to pale brown
  • small black specks cover the back
  • acute spines on the front corners of the thorax
  • a short black line on the wing tips which extends beyond the abdomen
  • the conspicuous spine on the middle of the front tibia may be noticeable
Image of a spined soldier bug.

Photo by Marlin Rice, formerly ISU Extension

Western Pine Seed Bug

  • A common household accidental invader in Iowa
  • about 1 inch long
  • elongate in shape
  • dull reddish brown in color
  • pointed at both ends
  • antennae are almost as long as the body
  • faint, white zigzag line across the center of the back
Image of a pine seed bug.

Photo by Laura Jesse, ISU Extension

Squash Bug

  • Common on foliage and fruit of pumpkins and squash in late summer
  • 1-inch long
  • gray-black or brown in color,
  • longate oval and pointed at the head end
  • hide in winter under old vines, under leaves, clods, stones and other debris.
  • rarely found indoors
Image of a lone squash bug on a pumpkin.

Photo from University of Maryland Extension

BMSB is reported from approximately 16 different states, including Iowa. A single dead specimen was collected in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in February, 2011 and submitted to ISU for diagnosis. This is the first and only confirmed indication of this pest in Iowa. It is not known if specimen is from an established population or if it was an isolated individual. BMSB travels readily in shipping containers and with people. For more information please see the crop news update "Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Detection in Iowa".