Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > June 2013 > Stink, Stank, Stunk

Stink, Stank, Stunk

Stink bugs--not only do they stink if you accidentally (or on purpose) squish them, but they can eat a lot of our garden plants. Did I mention that they can eat a LOT of our garden plants?
Stink bugs, specifically Brown Marmorata Stink Bugs, are native to China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. They were introduced to the United States and first recorded in Pennsylvania in 1998. While they are related to several species of native stink bugs, they pose a bigger problem because the Brown Marmorata is here—and its natural predators are still in China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea! 
It’s a voracious feeder with a real fondness for fruits and berries, tomatoes, peppers, beans and corn. Stinkbugs and squash bugs look somewhat similar, though squash bugs tend to be a few shades lighter. Stink bugs tend to prefer tomatoes so if they’re on squash plants are probably squash bugs. Do be sure your stink bugs are not soldier beetles which are beneficial. If they have sharp points on the ends of their “shields” or 2 “eye” markings just below their heads, then leave them alone. 
Stink bugs do not bite or sting humans or animals. They do not carry diseases. They can, however, make plants more susceptible to diseases by leaving holes where insects, who do transmit disease, can move in. Fruits that have been attacked by stink bugs are still edible, but decidedly less attractive with little pits marring the surface.
So how do we get rid of them? One of the best solutions is to simply hand-pick and toss in a bucket of soapy water. (You can be sure I'll be wearing rubber gloves for that--Ick!)  Pyrethrins are also fairly effective, but will only kill those insects it actually touches. If applying sprays, be sure to spray early in the morning or late in the evening. Not only will you get more insects that way, but you’ll avoid killing any honeybees.  One of the best offenses is a good defense. Keep gardens free of weeds and debris that can provide good hiding places. It’s particularly important to clean your bed before winter because that will minimize any eggs that might otherwise hatch in the spring.
Stink bugs don’t like onion family members (garlic, chives, leeks, shallots) or mints (including catnip and bee balm). They also seem not to like lavender and thyme, so if you’ve been bothered with stink bugs, in the past companion planting with those might be a good idea. Do keep in mind, that in a vegetable or flower garden, invasive mints should probably be grown in containers. Also remember that beans and peas don’t get along with onion family member.
Posted: 6/10/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 1 comment(s)
Filed under: MargotGunn, TheGreatIndoors
Love your title! I always learn so much from your posts!
6/13/2013 9:20:17 AM

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