Top 6: Smelly Bugs and Insects

When it comes to smelly insects, most people know about the stink bug. As its name suggests, these foul-smelling crawlers are outfitted with quite the pungent defense mechanisms, but they’re not the only ones. Here are six others we don’t want to sniff anytime soon.

6. Ladybug
Although ladybugs are quite the cute insect, they’re hiding something pretty stinky. These brightly-colored beetles give off an offensive odor comparable to burned peanuts and raw potatoes as a defense mechanism. The moldy smell comes from methoxypyrazine, a chemical that’s excreted from glands in the ladybug’s legs when they sense danger. The smell has been known to linger on for hours after a ladybug is squashed, so avoid stepping on them if you can.

5. Whip Scorpion
Most would be surprised to find that the whip scorpion isn’t even a scorpion. In fact, the whip scorpion is an arachnid, but it was given the name due to its resemblance to scorpions. With a gnarly, whip-like tail, you would expect this insect to have a fierce bite, but the whip scorpion doesn’t even have venom glands. Party of the vinegaroon family of insects, its primary method of self-defense are glands that expel a combination of acetic and caprylic acids that when combined have an intense vinegar-like odor. Pee-yew!

4. Bombardier Beetle
Like its name says, this ground beetle is ready to drop the bomb if it feels threatened. The bombardier beetle has a unique defense mechanism against predators that allows it to spray a foul-smelling solution from its body. In addition to the chemical spray smelling bad, it also comes out boiling hot, is highly-corrosive and is projected with bullet-like accuracy. Watch out!

3. Dung Beetle
For a dung beetle that spends a majority of its life tracking down and rolling fecal matter from animals, you’d expect them not to smell like roses. But not only do they roll the smelly excrement and make nests from it, as a coprophagous insect, they also ingest it. As the adage goes, “You are what you eat,” which for the dung beetle make it a pretty smelly customer.

2. Earwig
If you’ve ever played with a stink bomb as a kid, you know the intense smelly box of horrors you’re opening up. Well, the earwig is a crawling stink bomb in itself and expels a substance so vile that it causes predators to spit it out when being when eaten! Scientists have discovered that the substance’s chemical composition is comprised of sulfur-based compounds with a smell comparable to rotten eggs and decaying flesh.

1. Stink Bug
Lastly, we couldn’t have a list of smelly insects without the one that has foul odor in its name, the stink bug. Like a skunk, these invasive insects produce chemicals in their glands that they emit as a defense mechanism when they’re injured or threatened. While the smell varies from species to species, the common interpretation of the odor is reminiscent of intense herbs and spices like coriander and cilantro.

Sources:
“It’s stink bug season: Here’s how to get rid of them” USA Today
“Meet the Bug That Turns into a Rotting-Flesh Stink Bomb” National Geographic
“10 Fascinating Facts About Dung Beetles” ThoughtCo.
“11 animals that use odor as a weapon” Mother Nature Network
“Whip Scorpion” It’s Nature
“Why Ladybugs Smell Bad” Chemical & Engineering News


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