You would not be the first Leo owner to look at the availability and low cost of stink bugs and consider them a terrific food option for geckos. Regrettably, their unpleasant smell and the potential to affect Leo’s health make stink bugs an undesirable choice for both Leopard Gecko owners and their pets.
Leopard Geckos dislike the taste and smell of stink bugs. Furthermore, consuming stink bugs can be detrimental to Leo’s health. Stink bugs are difficult to digest and often carry parasites or pesticides that negatively affect Leo’s health.
Can Leopard Geckos eat stink bugs?
Leopard Gecko’s should avoid eating stink bugs, and as an owner, you should, where possible, prevent stink bugs from entering their environment.
Do Leopard geckos like eating stink bugs?
Leopard geckos do not usually eat stink bugs due to their foul odor and taste. Typically, they will avoid stink bugs or spit them out when tasted. If other insect options are available, the stink bug will be the Leopard Geckos’ last snack choice.
Conversely, Leopard Geckos are also known to eat any insect small enough to fit into their mouth. If the insect is alive and they can catch it, they will eat it.
Why gecko owners don’t like stink bugs
The foul-smelling stench that comes from the stink bug can linger for several hours and can be very hard to eliminate. Handling stink bugs will inevitably lead to you getting the stinky liquid on your hands which can be very unpleasant.
Although they do not bite and are not dangerous to humans, working with stink bugs is not a pleasurable task.
Should you offer stink bugs to your Leo?
There are safer and more nutritional food sources for your Leo than stink bugs. Breeding your insects or getting a variety of insects from your exotic pet shop is a better alternative. Gut-loaded insects such as mealworms, super worms, crickets, and dubia cockroaches are good options. Although super worms can be too large for a small leopard gecko.
Collecting wild stink bugs for your Leo can be dangerous. Gathering your bugs prevents you from adequately controlling where they have been and what they may have ingested. Stink bugs are plant-eating bugs that can frequently be found in crops, increasing the risk of carrying hazardous pesticides.
Stink bugs may carry pesticides and diseases that can be toxic or fatal to your Leopard Gecko. Stink bugs can also be semi-poisonous due to their phosphorous content.
The size and hard exoskeletons found on stink bugs can also make it hard for your Leopard Gecko to swallow or digest the bug, leading to impaction or other health issues. If your Leo stops eating and cannot defecate, visit your local vet. Medications can be prescribed to assist Leo in passing the bug.
Although stink bugs are not dangerous, the stinky fluid excreted from the gland on their abdomen can cause skin irritation for your gecko. The foul smell can also frustrate and distress both you and your Leo.
Related: Can leopard geckos eat pill bugs?
Avoiding stink bug contact with your Leo
Stink bugs are most prevalent throughout autumn and can easily find their way into your home or in your garden. Keeping stink bugs away from your Leo should be a priority for you during this time.
If you notice stink bugs around your home, temporarily cover your enclosure with a screen or mesh to prevent the bugs from getting into Leo’s tank. Never use insecticide to eliminate stink bugs, as your gecko could unintentionally eat one and die.
Instead, use a natural deterrent spray by mixing one part lavender oil, one part dishwashing liquid, and one part water and spray wherever you may see signs of stink bugs. An alternative natural deterrent that many Leopard Gecko owners swear by is catnip.
Planting catnip around your house can further help in preventing a stink bug infestation. Garlic, radishes, marigold, chrysanthemum, lavender, and thyme are other plants that aid in deterring the stink bug.
Keep outdoor lighting off, correct any damp areas surrounding your home, and keep your house clean and dust-free. If you store wood, keep the wood stored more than 20 feet (6 meters) from your home and ensure that your household garbage is regularly removed.
These techniques will all help reduce the number of stink bugs in your home and keep your Leopard Geckos safe.
Other stink bug removal tips
If you manage to catch stink bugs outside your Leo’s tank environment, dispose of the bugs as soon as possible. Stink bugs give off chemicals to attract other stink bugs, aggravating the problem.
Luckily, killing stink bugs does not attract other stink bugs. Dropping a stink bug in a tablespoon of white vinegar will not only kill the stink bug immediately but will eliminate the bugs without a smell.
What exactly is a stink bug?
The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is best known as part of the Pentatomidae family. First originating from Asia, in countries such as Japan, China, and Korea, the stink bug has found its way as far as North and South America and Europe.
Although the stink bug comes in various colors, it can usually be recognized by baring a dark brown back and creamy white or light brown underbelly. These bugs feed on over 100 types of plants, and due to their unfortunate stench, they have no natural predators.
How and why do stink bugs smell?
The stink bugs smell has been described as distinctly herby. Comparable to the scent of a skunk or cilantro (coriander), the stink bugs’ odor comprises chemicals commonly used in food additives. Interestingly enough are also present in the herb, Cilantro.
The smell is produced by a chemical substance that is excreted from a gland on the bug’s abdomen. This smell can be sprayed several inches and is an excellent defense mechanism for the stink bug when threatened or squashed.
I advise keeping your Leopard Gecko’s environment free of stink bugs and sourcing safe alternative insect options from your exotic pet store. Supervising your Leo’s enclosure and your house surrounds and putting measures in place to deter these bugs will ensure your Leopard Gecko remains healthy and stink-free.