Stink bug infestations refer to the presence of large numbers of stink bugs on or around plants, fruit, vegetables, homes, and buildings. These bugs are known to feed on a wide variety of plants, causing significant damage to crops and ornamental plants, as well as being a nuisance around homes. The adults and nymphs of stink bugs have a characteristic shield-shape body and release a strong, unpleasant odor when disturbed or crushed, which is how they got their name.
- Presence of adult stink bugs, nymphs, or both, on or around plants
- Discoloration or distortion of leaves, fruit, or vegetables
- Wilted or stunted growth of plants
- Presence of excrement or a sticky residue on plants or nearby surfaces
- Uneven ripening of fruit
- Presence of small, round holes in fruit or vegetables
- Reduced yield or crop loss
- Presence of stink bugs in and around homes or buildings in the fall and winter months, as they seek shelter.
What is a Stinkbug
- Shield-shaped body
- About 1/2 to 3/4 inches long
- Can be brown, gray or green in color
- Six legs
- Two antennae
- Two pairs of wings
- Front wings are thicker than the back ones and form a triangle shape
- Distinct smell that is emitted when they are disturbed or crushed
- Some species have markings or patterns on their bodies.
Treating Stinkbug Infestations
There are several ways to control stink bugs in a garden, including:
- Cultural control: This includes practices such as crop rotation, sanitation, and proper irrigation, which can help to reduce the population of stink bugs in your garden.
- Physical control: This includes using barriers such as row covers or screens to protect plants from stink bugs, or handpicking the bugs and destroying them.
- Biological control: This includes the use of beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings, which can feed on stink bugs and help to reduce their population.
- Chemical control: This includes the use of insecticides, but should be used with caution, as they can also harm beneficial insects and be harmful to humans and pets. It’s recommended to use an insecticide specifically labeled for stink bugs control, and to always follow the instructions on the label.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach: This approach involves using a combination of the above methods to effectively manage stink bugs in your garden. The goal of IPM is to use the least toxic method first, and to monitor the pest population to determine the effectiveness of the control measures and make adjustments as needed.
It’s important to keep in mind that the best approach will depend on the specific situation and severity of the infestation, and it’s always recommended to consult with a local expert or extension agent for specific advice for your area.
Cultural Control Methods
Cultural control methods for stink bugs involve manipulating the environment and the crop management to make it less favorable for the bugs and reduce the population. Some ways to use cultural control on stink bugs include:
- Crop rotation: Alternate the crops in the garden each year to disrupt the stink bug’s life cycle and reduce the population.
- Sanitation: Clean up and remove any debris or weeds around the garden, as they can provide shelter and food for stink bugs.
- Proper irrigation: Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, as overly dry or wet soil can make the plants less attractive to stink bugs.
- Planting trap crops: Some plants such as sunflowers and buckwheat can attract stink bugs, planting these plants around the perimeter of the garden can help to lure them away from the main crops.
- Proper timing of planting: Planting crops when the stink bugs are less active can reduce the damage caused by them.
It’s important to keep in mind that cultural control methods alone may not be enough to completely eliminate a stink bug infestation, and it may be necessary to use a combination of control methods for effective management. It’s also important to consult with a local expert or extension agent for specific advice on which cultural control methods are most appropriate for your area.
Physical Control Methods
Physical control methods for stink bugs involve using physical barriers or manually removing the bugs from plants or buildings. Some examples of physical control methods include:
- Row covers or screens: These can be used to cover plants to prevent stink bugs from getting to them. Row covers can be made of various materials such as lightweight, breathable fabric, which allows light and water to pass through, but keeps insects out. Screens can be used to cover windows, doors, vents, and other openings in buildings to prevent stink bugs from entering.
- Handpicking: This method involves physically removing stink bugs from plants or buildings by hand and destroying them. This method can be time-consuming, but it is effective and safe, especially for small infestations.
- Trapping: This method involves using sticky traps or pheromone traps to lure and capture stink bugs. These traps can be hung or placed in gardens or around buildings, and can be used to monitor the population of stink bugs in an area.
- Vacuuming: This method involves using a vacuum cleaner to suck up stink bugs and remove them from buildings. This can be effective in removing large numbers of bugs quickly, but it may not be effective in preventing future infestations.
- Pressure washing: this method involves using a pressure washer to physically remove stink bugs from surfaces and buildings.
It’s important to keep in mind that physical control methods alone may not be enough to completely eliminate a stink bug infestation, and it may be necessary to use a combination of control methods for effective management. Also, be aware that some of the methods may have some limitations and need to be frequently checked and replaced. Consult with a local expert or extension agent for specific advice on which physical control methods are most appropriate for your area.
Biological Control Methods
Biological control methods for stink bugs involve using natural predators or parasites to reduce the population of the bugs. Some ways to use biological control on stink bugs include:
- Beneficial insects: Some beneficial insects that can be used as biological control methods for stink bugs include parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and lacewings. These insects are natural predators of stink bugs and can help to reduce their population.
- Microbes: Some microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi can infect and kill stink bugs. For example, Entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana fungus infects the stink bugs by penetrating their cuticle and growing inside their body, ultimately killing the bug.
- Birds: Birds such as bluebirds, purple martins, and swallows feed on stink bugs and can help to reduce their population. Providing birdhouses and bird feeders in the garden can attract these birds to the area and increase their populations, which in turn can help to control the stink bug population.
It’s important to keep in mind that biological control methods can be effective, but they may take longer to have an impact on the stink bug population and may not completely eliminate them. It’s also important to consider the impact of the biological control method on other beneficial insects or organisms in the ecosystem. It’s recommended to consult with a local expert or extension agent for specific advice on which biological control methods are most appropriate for your area.
It’s also important to note that biological control is not always practical or feasible, and it may be necessary to use a combination of control methods for effective management.
Chemical Control Methods
Chemical control methods for stink bugs involve the use of insecticides to kill or repel the bugs. Some ways to use chemical control on stink bugs include:
- Insecticides: These can be used to kill stink bugs on contact or through ingestion. Insecticides labeled for use on stink bugs can be applied to the foliage and stems of plants, but it’s important to read and follow the label instructions carefully, as some insecticides can be harmful to beneficial insects and other wildlife.
- Repellents: Some repellents can be used to keep stink bugs away from certain areas. These repellents usually contain essential oils or other natural compounds that emit a strong smell that can repel stink bugs.
It’s important to note that chemical control methods can be effective, but they can also have negative impacts on the environment and other organisms. It’s also important to consider the impact of the chemical control method on other beneficial insects or organisms in the ecosystem. It’s recommended to consult with a local expert or extension agent for specific advice on which chemical control methods are most appropriate for your area, and the specific situation.
Additionally, it’s important to consider the potential risks associated with the use of chemical pesticides, such as potential health hazards to humans and pets, and the potential damage to non-target organisms, before applying any chemicals. Therefore, it’s recommended to use the least toxic method first, and to follow all safety precautions when handling and applying pesticides.