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Beneficial bug: Spined Soldier Bugs

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                         Beneficial bug: Spined Soldier Bugs

 (Podisus maculiventris)










When prey are scarce, the spined soldier bug may feed on plant juices, but this feeding is not reported to cause plant damage.


This species is highly cannibalistic.


This species may be confused with Euchistus species, which are common plant feeding stink bugs. The spined soldier bug has more acute spines on the edge of the pronotum.





Special Species Notes



The spined soldier bug is a predatory stink bug and is to native North America. They can be found from Quebec to Florida, from New England to the Pacific. It is a "generalist" and can feed on over 100 different types of prey, primarily the larvae of beetles and moths. While more common in southern areas of the U.S., this predator can be readily found in many crop and non-crop environments in the Midwest.


Podisus maculiventris eggs are also sold commercially for use in control programs and this has proven successful in controlling pests in European and North American heated greenhouses. It has not been successful in colder climates. They are common along streams, densely wooded areas, greenhouses, and in agricultural ecosystems.



Adult Podisus are highly mobile and will spread rapidly throughout the crop by walking and flying. Nymphs can walk easily from plant to plant when plants are touching each other.


Soldier bugs are true bugs, meaning they belong to the Order Hemiptera, or “half-winged”. Like other hemipterans, they do not enter a complete metamorphosis; they do not create a cocoon or a chrysalis. All they need do to become winged adults from wingless mature nymphs is shed their skin. They are from the Family Pentatomidae (Stink Bugs), Subfamily Asopinae (Predatory Stink Bugs). Their cousins are assassin bugs.


In the largest study,  most sustained attempt was releases in a biological control program (see MBCN No. 1, Vol. 4) against Colorado potato beetle in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Since both predators and prey were introduced into Eastern Europe (both are native to North America), the initial effort was an attempt at "classical biological control" (see MBCN No. 1, Vol. 3). This underscores an important point: many augmentative programs have their roots in classical efforts. Millions of spined soldier bugs were reared and released, with very promising results. However, with the collapse of communism, the spined soldier bug's fortunes declined and the program was discontinued.


In the U.S., the spined soldier bug has shown promise in augmentative biological control in both potatoes (Colorado potato beetle) and soybeans (Mexican bean beetle). However, the costs of these efforts is still not competitive with chemical applications, and more research needs to be done, particularly on rearing methods and release strategies.








The eggs range in color from cream-colored to black, some may be metallic bronze with a spiny crown around the top, and are usually laid in clusters of 15-70 on the upper side of a leaf. The egg is approximately 1 mm in diameter, with long projections around the operculum.






With each molt, the spined soldier bug changes in appearance.; 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. 30 days from egg to adult, depending on temperatures and food.





1st instar: This instar has a length of 1.3 to 1.5 mm. The head width, including the eyes, is 0.6 mm and the humeral width is 0.9 mm. The 1st instar nymph of Podisus maculiventris has a blackish head and thorax and reddish abdomen with black dorsal and lateral plates.



IMG_0935-300x225.jpg    podisus_maculiventris03.jpg



2nd instar: This instar has a length of 2.5 to 3.0 mm. The head width is 0.9 mm and the humeral width is 1.3 mm. As in other asopine nymphs, the 2nd instar nymph feeds on other insects. The 2nd instar resembles the 1st instar, red and black.




Second instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say).

Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.


3rd instar: This instar has a length of 3.5 to 4. 0 mm. The head width is 1.3 mm and the humeral width is 2.0 mm. The 3rd instar nymph has a black head and thorax while the abdomen is reddish with black, orange and white markings. The central bar-shaped markings are white and the lateral markings are orange. older nymphs are marked with red, black, yellow-orange, and cream bands and patches.


podisus_maculiventris06.jpg   ef325b.jpg?itok=z80lMcbf


Third instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say).

Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.



4th instar: This instar has a length of approximately 6 mm. The head width is 1.7 mm and the humeral is 3.2 mm wide. The colorations and patterns of the 4th instar nymph are similar to that of the 3rd instar nymph, but the wing pads become noticeable.


podisus_maculiventris07.jpg    c_maclv.jpg



Fourth instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say).

Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.


5th instar: This instar has a length of 8 to 10 mm. The head width is 2.2 mm and the humeral width is 4.8 mm. The wing pads are prominent in the 5th instar, and the head and thorax become mottled with brown. The abdominal markings are white or tan, and black.




Fifth instar nymph of the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say).

Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.




Adult spined soldier bugs are pale brown to tan and can be 8.5-13 mm long (about the size of your fingernail and have a prominent spine on each "shoulder"). 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. the "spined" in their name refers to spines on the legs. The adult male is approximately 11 mm long. The head width is 2.3 mm and the humeral width, including spines, is 7.6 mm wide. Females are slightly larger.




podisus_maculiventris09.jpg  podisus_maculiventris10.jpg


An Adult

Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.




Common Species:


There are 9 other predatory species. Many are generalist predators, several specialist species also exist.  Predatory stink bugs:


Pentatomidae, Hemiptera: predatory stink bug lurks in the flowers of milkweeds, but apparently did not feed on the nectar.


Ruthyrhynchus foridanus (L.)


Podisus maculiventris (Say)


Stiretrus anchorago (Fab.)


Adult Podisus maculiventris resemble the adult Alcaeorrhynchus grandis (Dallas) in being mottled brown in color, but Alcaeorrhynchus grandis adults are over 15 mm long and have only one spine on each humeral angle. These spines project outward, not forward as in Podisus macronatus Uhler. Each hind femur of Podisus maculiventris has two blackish dots at apical 3rd.


the toe-spotted stink bug (Perillus bioculatus) researchers discovered that as potato beetles eat potato plants, the leaves of plants release volatile compounds into the atmosphere. Hungry two-spotted stink bugs on the prowl for prey are able to detect the compounds from beetle-wounded plants and use them as an olfactory beacon to find beetle infested plants that house their prey.


Spined Soldier bug: Podisus maculiventris


Rough or Tree stink bug: Brochymena spp




Plant feeding (phytophagous) stink bugs:


Green stink bug: Acrosternum hilare

Brown stink bug: Euschistus servus

Southern Green stink bug: Nezara viridula Brown

Marmorated stink bug: Halyomorpha halys



Life cycle



The time from egg to adult varied from 27 to 38 days, with the egg stage lasting five to nine days. They are active all year in peninsular Florida, but often does not appear until spring in the "panhandle" counties. In Canada and the northern or central U.S., the spined soldier bug usually has two to three generations per year and hibernates as an adult from October to April.



They overwinter as adults, hiding in leaf litter in woods around fields, and begin emerging around mid-April in Indiana. Females can lay up to 500 eggs and live up to 125 days. Males are slightly smaller than females and live up to 180 days.


Survival, development, body weight and longevity also depend on the type of prey and the frequency of feeding. Females in the field eat about 1 prey every 2 days, which is a lot less than they can eat when food is readily available. Females who feed too much often die earlier than those fed less.


Females begin depositing eggs 4-7 days after emerging. The number of eggs a female lays depends on how well she is fed the more she eats the more eggs she lays and on the type of prey she eats.



The eggs are deposited in masses of 15-70, and Eggs hatch in 4-7 days, depending on temperature.


After emerging, The brick red first instar spined soldier bugs can be seen clustered around their egg masses as they ingest necessary bacterial symbionts associated with the eggs. They are not predaceous for 4 or 5 days after hatching, whereas the remaining 4 instars (immature stages), are predaceous. throughout the next three weeks of development, they attack and feed on prey.  Early instars are highly gregarious and usually remain in the same location. However, they become more solitary with each molt.




Immature stages of the stink bugs regularly eat about five Colorado beetle larva per day over a lifespan of several weeks. Individual spined soldier bugs are reported to eat more than 100 caterpillars over the course of a growing season.





spined soldier bug eating the larvae of Mexican bean beetle



What they eat:


This bug has "piecing-sucking" mouthparts which it uses to impale prey and suck out their internal juices. Occasionally, when prey is scarce or the bugs want to enjoy a little salad with their meat, by sucking on plants to obtain moisture. The plants aren't harmed and the bugs don't transmit disease. In a way, by providing moisture to predators, the plants help to keep the predator around until pests appear.


This insect is a generalist predator with a broad host range, over 100 species in many families have been reported as prey. Prime targets are immature insects. Prey is harpooned, injected with a substance that paralyzes it within 60 seconds, and is killed as body fluids are sucked out through the harpoon. As they mature, though, their palate becomes more sophisticated, and they will only respond to larger prey such as small caterpillars, housefly maggots, and hide beetle larvae.


soft-bodied aphids (when young), caterpillars of gypsy moth caterpillars, velvetbean caterpillar, Fruit piercing moth, imported and Cross-striped cabbageworm, diamondback moth, Eastern comma Butterfly, loopers, flea beatles, sumac flea beetles,  grubs, the larvae of Mexican bean beetle, European corn borer, Colorado potato beetles, corn earworm, beet armyworm, fall armyworm, cabbage looper, flea beetles, hornworms, webworms, Banana skipper, Leaf beetle.


They do not feed on earthworms even when offered.


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.


Companion plants Podisus maculiventris is associated with several crops including alfalfa, apples, asparagus, beans, celery, cotton, crucifers, cole crops, fruit crops cucurbits, eggplant, potatoes, onions, soybeans, sweet corn and tomatoes.


Pesticide Susceptibility


Research showed P. maculiventris to be more susceptible than its prey 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.







General application rate is one nymph/adult per lightly infested plant and 5-10 per heavily affected plant. Podisus are highly mobile. Nymphs can walk quickly from plant to plant. Adults will spread rapidly by flying and walking. It is recommended, however, that the bugs be released evenly thoughout the crop to reduce cannibalism and to increase predator efficiency.



Loose Egg - Instructions


CAREFULLY dispense approximately 25 eggs into small paper cups. Hang cups individually near foliage, out of direct sunlight. Eggs will hatch within 2-3 weeks of release, depending on ambient temperature. Young Podisus emerge from egg capsules and move as a group out of cup and onto the nearest leaf. Use a cup of 25 loose eggs for each "hot-spot" or 25 loose eggs per 10 square meters. (100 sq ft)



If storage is necessary, keep them at 8 - 10 degrees Celsius (46 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit). If storage is longer than 1 day, store them at 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit).



Unfortunately, these are expensive to buy as eggs through a bio-control supplier (prices below). If you are one of the rare people who actually wants to rear them, they can be collected in the summer. They are usually readily available in flowery meadows, or in a garden where cabbages are grown. They can be reared using similar methods and host species.

250 eggs      $124.00
500 eggs      $220.00
750 eggs      $300.00
1000 eggs     $380.00










The link below will take you to "An Intro to beneficial bugs and beneficial insect food" it has a list (been worked on) to pests and beneficial insects





Classy, sassy, and a bit of a smart assy

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Spined Soldier Bugs are related to stink bug but are not harmful to your crops. They are very much beneficial to garden as it is already mentioned above. But, sometimes when increasing the presence of these bugs, there is a possibility that you may have these bugs attacking your home. At that point you will feel helpless and you need to call up some exterminator Fairfield who will provide guarantees to keep these bugs away.

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SUPER Excellent And Detailed To The 'Nines' Post Purple-OUTSTANDING Info-Flows Perfectly !


Thanks Very Much To You Too Iammua And Barbara. Very Nice To Meet You Both.


Grateful, Brother Will  ☺️

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