Stink bugs (sometimes known as “shield bugs”) are pests that attack tomato plants and cause fruit to rot. There are about 200 species of Pentatomidae insects in North America, all of which are members of the insect family Pentatomidae.
When threatened, these bugs emit a noxious odor from their thoracic gland, which is why they’re called that. In a nutshell, they stink. Find more about stink bug extermination near me.
What is the appearance of a stink bug?
- Shield-like shape
- The majority are brown or green in color.
- Distinct species have different markings, which can be yellow, red, or pink.
- Approximately 12 inch in length
What harm do they inflict on plants?
- The snouts of these pests are inserted beneath the tomato skin. They leave an enzyme at the sting point of the tomato, which transforms it into liquid. After that, the bug consumes the liquid.
- On the tomato, sting points leave dark pinprick marks.
- When liquid is removed from tomatoes, discolored spots form. They’re often white, yellowish, or light green in color. Damage can resemble a knot.
When do they start working?
When stink bugs bite tomatoes, they are in the adult stage.
How can you get rid of stink bugs?
Prevention is the most effective control approach (see below). Other measures should be taken to keep these pests away from your tomatoes.
- Weed control Excessive greenery in the garden and surrounding regions makes ideal breeding grounds for the pests. Maintain a well-weeded garden plot early in the season before the population matures. You’ll have to keep them from settling on your tomatoes. To keep bugs at bay, keep weeds under control until harvest.
- Clean the plants. Spray tomato plants with water every day when bugs first arrive in your tomato patch. The water will push them away from the plants. To repel insects, spray tomatoes with a 1-1 solution of water and vegetable oil, olive oil, or lavender oil using a garden sprayer. (Here’s a nice place to look for garden sprayers.)
- Select bugs by hand. Remove them from the container and place them in a bucket of soapy water. To capture bugs, place a dish beneath the plant and shake it. Alternatively, you can use a hand vacuum to collect them.
- In a separate location from the tomato plants, put “trap crops” surrounding the tomato garden. Trap crops are natural deterrents that attract stink bugs away from tomato plants while still providing a haven for them. You can attract parasitic wasps, birds, and other predators that feed on bugs by planting large regions of small-flowered plants. Yellow is thought to attract stink bugs. Trap crops for these pests include mustard, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, sunflowers, marigolds, garlic, lavender, and chrysanthemums.
- Make use of a green therapy. Kaolin is a soft, white silicate clay material that can be used with a garden sprayer when mixed with water. Water evaporates after application, leaving a protective powdered coating. Insects are prevented from reaching tissue by the coating, which acts as a physical barrier. Kaolin is a non-toxic, natural clay. Before using more serious methods to control these insects, treat tomato plants for two weeks.
- Apply insecticide to the area. If the bugs continue to attack tomatoes following kaolin treatments, insecticides such as Sevin or Eight may be required (Permethrin). However, keep in mind that you may be killing beneficial insects in the process. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
What is the life cycle of a stink bug?
Our insect pal goes through a standard three-stage transformation: egg, nymph, and adult.
- Adults lay eggs on plant stems and undersides of leaves in early spring (March and April).
- Nymphs go through five developmental stages in the first 4-5 weeks after hatching.
- Adults hibernate under garden trash and leaves for the winter, then lay eggs for the following cycle.
What can you do to keep them out of your tomato patch next season?
- Keep weeds at bay. In deep foliage, stink bugs conceal. You can take away areas for them to reside and hide by removing as many weeds and superfluous garden foliage as possible throughout the growth season.
- Get rid of any debris. Remove any weeds that may have established an overwintering habitat for adult bugs after your last harvest. At the conclusion of the season, remove and kill any afflicted plants.
- Plants from outer space. Allow extra space between tomato plants when planting seedlings in the garden next spring. There is more circulation and fewer areas for bugs to hide and flourish because there is more space.
What more should you learn about these pests?
- When temperatures rise, stink bugs migrate from the south to the north.
- In the south, however, longer growing seasons allow them to spawn more regularly. As a result, infestations last longer in warmer climates. Adult bugs will continue to remain active if the winter is mild.
- Bugs are drawn to the light. During summer evenings, they will congregate near outdoor lights and even more so indoors.
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