The chust, shield or stink bugs refer to insects found in the superfamily Pentatomoidea which has about 7000 different species. They are characterized by a hardened extension from their thorax that goes over their abdomen referred as to scutellum. This scutellum can be semielliptical or triangular.
To help protect themselves from their preys, these insects secrete an awful smelling fluid meant to deter their predators.
Chust bugs mainly feed on plant sap and some do prey on other insects. However, they do not bite or sting. One type, the brown marmorated one that was introduced in the US accidentally has proved to be an aggressive agricultural pest.
Can cats eat stink bugs or are they harmful
Yes. They can eat them. Stink bugs are not harmful or toxic to cats and you should not be worried if you see yours eating them. Upon noticing moving, hoping, flying or crawling small critters including insects and other bugs, a feline’s instincts to hunt for them will be activated and hence they will begin pursuing them.
As we have already noted, they produced nasty tasting and foul smelling fluids to deter their various predators. Therefore, in most instance, once they have caught them, most cats will try to eat them, only to leave them alone due to the secretions which will irritate their lips, mouth, and tongue.
Also, if they happen to munch and ingest too many of these insects, there might be some changes of irritation of the intestinal tract, vomiting, and even diarrhea. These symptoms should not worry you since they will soon disappear after about a half a day, i.e., they are self-limiting.
In case your feline friend eats many shield bugs, you deserve to know that their scutellum (hardened shield) may not be digestible. This will further complicate the situation and can possibly cause blockages inside this animal’s digestive tract. Such blockages may be troublesome in severe cases and require surgical removal.
Finally, since some of the members of the superfamily Pentatomoidea are considered agricultural pests, sometimes pesticides and insecticides may be used in their extermination or control. Obviously, if your pets eat those that have been sprayed with these insecticides or pesticides, you expect them to be harmful.
Some insects, arachnids and other arthropods are often considered as both vectors of various diseases and some of them can carry and transmit various parasites especially intestinal ones. Therefore, always try to stop your cat from eating any of these critters.
Let us rest our case of the issue of stink bugs and cats by noting that although they may be safe, they are not the best things you should let this pet have. In case you want to exterminate them, use pet-friendly methods.