I hate stink bugs, I really do. They more than live up to their names by releasing a foul-smelling spray when they feel threatened.
If you have stink bugs and chickens in your yard, you’re probably looking at your flock and wondering if it’s safe for them to do you a favor, right?
Do chickens eat stink bugs? Chickens do eat stink bugs, as they do most other bugs and insects they find. There’s no evidence to show they can do your chicks any harm, but they do stink!
What Are Stink Bugs?
Stink bugs, which are also called Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs and Shield Bugs, are small triangular looking insects about ¾ of an inch in length.
They’re native to Asia and were only spotted in the U.S. in the early 2000s. Since then, however, they’ve spread at a rapid pace and are now found all across the states.
These little bugs love feeding on plants and green leafy matter. They can destroy crop fields in large amounts, and lay eggs on the undersides of leaves.
What they’re most well-known for is the stink they release when they feel threatened - hence their name.
I’ll never forget the first time I came across one of these bugs, it was that bad!
One was actually on the sleeve of my jacket while I was driving. I didn’t know what type of bug it was, so I picked it up by hand to throw out of the window.
It started releasing that horrific odor onto my fingers and was actually stuck to my finger. I flicked my hand around like crazy to shake it off and my car was literally full of the worst stench I’d ever smelled from an insect.
I looked up what type of bug it was to make sure it wasn’t toxic or poisonous or anything. That’s how I first came to know what stink bugs are, and I’ve seen (and avoided) them ever since.
Are Stink Bugs Toxic to Chickens?
Despite smelling so bad, stink bugs are not toxic or poisonous in any way.
Their smelly secretions can cause some mild irritation to the gastrointestinal tract of some animals. It’s not really a surprise that something smelling so bad isn’t exactly a delicacy though.
If you’re dealing with a serious infestation of these bugs in your yard, I’d call pest control or take measures to get rid of them.
They can cause some serious damage to plants and flowers. As well as to wooden structures like coops and sheds.
Related content - Do chickens eat flies?
Why Do Stink Bugs Smell So Bad?
Stink bugs spray an odor to help protect them from being eaten by predators - and I can see how it would work!
They produce a chemical in a gland in their abdomen and spray it out from their sides to ward off threats.
If you’ve never come close enough to one in person to smell it for yourself, I’ve heard people explaining that it smells like a strong herb.
People often say it smells like cilantro or coriander. Interestingly, the composition of this chemical actually contains some chemicals found in cilantro, so that explains the comparison.
That doesn’t really do it justice though.
For me, the best way I can explain the smell is similar to the worst kind of decomposition you’d smell from a composting pile in the garden.
Not only is it that bad, but it lingers for hours. Especially if you get some of the chemicals on your skin or clothing.
Will Eating Them Affect the Taste of a Chicken's Eggs or Meat?
There are some strong-smelling foods that can affect the taste of eggs, such as onions and garlic.
These aren’t too bad though, and some people actually prefer the taste of eggs from chickens eating a lot of garlic.
On the other hand, the last thing you want is the smell from a stink bug affecting the taste of an egg. The good news is that there’s no evidence this is the case.
I’ve spoken with a few backyard flock owners who know their chickens eat marmorated bugs, and no one has ever noticed any effect.
What Kind of Bugs Do Chickens Eat?
It’s easier to list what kinds of bugs chickens won’t eat!
They’ll eat just about anything that moves. Ants, termites, worms, spiders, centipedes and other insects and bugs around this size are among their favorites.
Chickens are omnivores, so they will eat just about everything. They require a lot of protein from their diet, especially when they’re laying or molting.
Bugs and insects are usually a good source of protein. Mealworms, in particular, are a great protein-boosting food for example.
In Summary - Do Chickens Eat Stink Bugs?
I hope this has helped clear up any concerns you have about these foul-smelling little stink bugs.
Assuming your chickens are eating a few here and there, they don’t pose any kind of health risk to chickens.
They do pose some other problems, though. Your plants, and any fruits and vegetables left out for your chickens may get munched on.
Then there’s the obvious offense they pose to your sense of smell!
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug - University of Maryland
Stink Bugs - PestWorld.org