These annoying little pests are voracious plant raiders that ruin millions of dollars’ worth of crops globally each year.
Other called green soldier bugs, stink bugs acquired their name because of the foul odor they emit when threatened or squished.
It’s said to smell something like pungent herbs, especially cilantro. Some even say they remind them of a skunk.
The chemical secreted by the insect that gives off this foul smell contains some of the same ingredients as those found not only in cilantro but its food additives.
Stink bugs also go by the name Shield Bug because of their shape, which is triangular like a shield. It’s this shape that often gets them confused with the leaf-footed bug.
Their life cycle consists of the egg (females can lay up to 100 at a time), five stages of a nymph with them growing bigger after each molt, and adults.
Adults can be up to 2 cm long. They come in a wide range of colors — green, grayish, brown, and some even have patterns. The eggs are laid on the underneath of host plant leaves.
The laying period begins in early spring, and in summertime moving on to fall, they move inside to winter in warm places.
What Do Stink Bugs Eat?
Plant eaters – nymphs eat weeds and grass.
- Plant shoots – kills the plant
- Young fruits – infects the fruit which causes it to fall prematurely
- Mature fruits – tomatoes, apples, peaches, etc. They don’t eat all of it, but they do give access to other insects
- Cereal grains – sorghum, rice, oats, etc.
- Vegetables – above ground and below ground varieties
- Plant roots – doesn’t kill but does give access to other insects
- Tree sap – all kinds of trees not just fruit and nut
- Ornamental plants – they eat the leaves mostly
Predators – they eat other stink bugs.
How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs Naturally
Though there is no need to fear them because they do not bite or sting, they will wreak havoc on your garden.
These are the top natural and organic approaches to keeping these pesky skunk-smelling critters away from your garden.
1. Kaolin Clay
Kaolin clay is a naturally occurring clay mineral and when prepared in a spray solution, can be applied to plants, especially the undersides of leaves.
It won’t allow their eggs to attach.
2. Beneficial Insects
Attracting insects that hunt for these little green bugs is one of the best natural ways to control the plant-eaters.
Insects that like to yank them include toads, praying mantis, ladybugs, parasitic flies, predatory stink bugs, birds, and lacewings.
A little research will tell you which stink bug predators are native to your area and how to attract them.
3. Trap Plants
You can use plants to confuse stink bugs, luring them away. Once they’ve flocked to it, you can (carefully!!) drape a bag over the plant, yank it up and dispose of it — plant and bugs alike.
It’s suggested leaving the sealed bags in the hot sun for a few days to kill the bugs trapped inside before you throw the bags away.
The plants they will go after most are sunflower, sweet corn, mustard, hollyhocks, okra, and amaranth.
Plant those nearby to keep them out of your vegetable garden — unless they are a part of your prized crops.
4. Manually Remove Them
Best to do this with gloves and a mask on. If they feel threatened, they will emit a foul odor that can last up to 4 hours.
Quickly pluck them off the plant they’re destroying and drop them into a pail of soapy water which suffocates them.
5. Hose Them
Use a spray nozzle on your hose just not on a high setting to knock them off the plant. It may not harm them, but it will keep them off the plants for a while.
6. Sticky Fly Tape
Use these with caution because they can catch beneficial insects as well as pests. Sticky traps can be used to safeguard both the garden and the house from infestation.
Use it to make a barrier around your garden or window sill if they’re finding their way inside the house. The sticky tape makes an excellent stink bug trap!
7. Neem Oil Spray
Mix up 2 teaspoons of neem oil with 4 cups of water and spray liberally everywhere you have the stinky little bugs.
This natural pesticide will get soaked up by their exoskeletons, and begin to interfere with the way they behave. It doesn’t kill them instantly but in the end, they do die.
8. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Spread this natural white powdered silica at the base of plants and on its leaves. It will prevent them from being naturally able to lay their eggs.
Diatomaceous earth will also interfere with the feeding of those that eat roots and shoots.
9. Eliminate Weeds
Nymphs only eat weeds and grass so pulling them up and completely disposing of them will rid the adults of a place in your garden to lay their eggs.
10. Garlic Spray
A simple home remedy, this spray is a mixture of water, organic liquid soap, and garlic. Blend, strain, and spray on plants liberally.
The smell will repel the critters, and the taste will keep them from eating your plant. Reapply after it rains.
11. Soapy Water
Organic liquid soap and water; what could be simpler?
This simple homemade solution is sprayed directly on contact where it’s soaked up by their bodies, later dehydrating and killing them.
12. Hot Pepper Spray
This spray is made by soaking hot peppers like chili or scotch bonnet in water and then using the water in a spray bottle.
Peppers have Capsaicin in them. This chemical, which gives the fruit its “heat”, also burns the stink bugs’ bodies when it’s sprayed directly on them.
It breaks down in sunlight so applying it at night or late evening would be best.
Types of Stink Bugs
There are several different species, but they all fall into two categories. The one with the most members is the plant-eating type.
The second is an insect predator that goes after other stink bugs. It’s very important to know the difference between the two so you don’t get rid of the wrong one.
Plant eaters include the:
- Brown Marmorated (Halyomorpha halys) – flaunts a brown marbled body, with darkish-brown wings, and lightly-colored antennae.
- Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica) – these have patches of red and blank on their body.
- Southern Green (Nezara viridula) – mostly seen in the southern states, hence the name. It’s bright green all over with red or black eyes. It displays black spots on its body sides.
- Rice (Oebalus pugnax) – this one has elongated forward-pointing spines all over its body and frequents the NE states where they are most common.
- Forrest Bug (Pentatoma rufipes) – this one is found all over the world in woodlands and forestry areas. They have brown bodies with reddish or orange colorations and orange legs.
Beneficial stink bugs include:
- Spiked Soldier – sports light brown, beige, or golden bodies with black dots. They too display ridges on the top parts of their body and head.
- Two-spotted – flaunts orange and black bodies with two bold black spots on the thorax and bell shapes on their back.
Stink bugs will not only infest your garden and orchard, but also your home.
The best way to avoid an infestation is to prevent it before it happens. If not, the above are the best helping aids that will not harm your health or plants.