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Biological Control : A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America Anthony Shelton, Ph.D., Professor of Entomology, Cornell University

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Podisus maculiventris
(Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)
Spined Soldier Bug

One of the stink bugs, named for the strong odor emitted when disturbed, this useful insect has a wide host range, including several important crop pests. It is the most common of several species of Podisus and is found throughout the continental United States.


Adult spined soldier bugs are pale brown to tan and can be 8.5-13 mm long. They are shield-shaped with prominent spurs on the "shoulders," immediately behind the head. Unlike pest species that may look similar, spined soldier bug adults have a distinctive dark line on the membranous tip of each forewing that may form one dark streak when the wing tips overlap.

Young nymphs are red and black; older nymphs are marked with red, black, yellow-orange, and cream bands and patches. They are wingless and round rather than shield-shaped. Both adults and nymphs have long, pointed beaks with which they stab their prey and which they keep folded under their bodies when not feeding.

Habitat (Crops)

Most, including potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, cole crops, beans, eggplant, cucurbits, asparagus, apples, and onions.

Pests Attacked

Over 100 species in many families have been reported as prey. Prime targets are immature insects. Reported prey include the larvae of Mexican bean beetle, European corn borer, diamondback moth, corn earworm, beet armyworm, fall armyworm, cabbage looper, imported cabbageworm, Colorado potato beetle, velvetbean caterpillar, and flea beetles.

Life Cycle

Each female lays several hundred gray, cream, or gold barrel-shaped eggs in tight clusters of 20 to 30 on leaves and twigs. The nymphs initially cluster around the hatched eggs, then disperse to feed. There may be two to three generations per year. In the laboratory, adults have lived 2-3 months.

Relative Effectiveness

Individual spined soldier bugs have been recorded as consuming more than 100 late instar fall armyworm larvae over the equivalent of a season. In Washington potato fields, spined soldier bugs have been released in large numbers, with twospotted stink bugs, to reduce infestations of Colorado potato beetle by up to 50%. The species is sold for the control of Mexican bean beetle, but its effectiveness against this pest has not been proven yet in large scale trials. A pheromone, formulated to attract spined soldier bugs, is also commercially available.

Pesticide Susceptibility

Research showed P. maculiventris to be more susceptible than its prey, velvetbean caterpillar, fall armyworm, and corn earworm, to organophosphorous and carbamate insecticides, but less susceptible to pyrethroids.

Studies have shown that diafenthiuron and diflubenzuron, although less toxic by residual contact, were toxic to P. maculiventris when ingested in water and that pyriproxyfen and imidacloprid caused significant mortality to P. maculiventris populations regardless of the manner of contact.


For general information about conservation of natural enemies, see Conservation in the Tutorial section on this site, Feature Article on conservation in Volume II, No. 1 of Midwest Biological Control News.

Commercial Availability

Available commercially (see the off-site publication, Suppliers of Beneficial Organisms in North America, page of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation website).

Taken from:

Hoffmann, M.P. and Frodsham, A.C. (1993) Natural Enemies of Vegetable Insect Pests. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 63 pp.

Additional References

De Clercq, P., A. De Cock, L. Tirry, E. Vinuela and D. Degheele (1995). Toxicity of diflubenzuron and pyriproxyfen to the predatory bug Podisus maculiventris. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 74, 17-22.

De Cock, A., P. De Clercq, L. Tirry and D. Degheele (1996). Toxicity of diafenthiuron and imidacloprid to the predatory bug Podisus maculiventris (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). Environ. Entomol. 25, 476-480.

Yu, S.J. (1988) Selectivity of insecticides to the spined soldier bug (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) and its lepidopterous prey. J. Econ. Entomol., 81: 119-122.

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An adult spined soldier bug feeding on a Colorado potato beetle larva.  Note the dark line where the wing tips overlap. J.Ogrodnick

A spined soldier bug nymph feeding on a Colorado potato beetle larva. USDA.

Top: An adult spined soldier bug feeding
on a Colorado potato beetle larva.
Note the dark line where the wing tips overlap.
Photo: J.Ogrodnick

Bottom: A spined soldier bug nymph feeding on a Colorado potato beetle larva. Photo: USDA

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