There are tink bugs destroy millions of dollars’ worth of crops across the globe every year. They are harmful insects that feed on a wide variety of plants including those in your garden.
With their numbers on the increase, many farmers are now looking for ways to protect their crops against this annual menace.
How to get rid of stink bugs in the garden naturally? If you prefer a more organic approach to pest control, there are a plethora of natural solutions and home remedies to get rid of stink bugs organically.
1. Kaolin Clay
Also known as China Clay, Kaolin clay is a natural mineral used in the making of porcelain and fine china.
Spraying a solution of Kaolin clay, liquid soap, and water on your plants creates a fine barrier that irritates the bodies of stink bugs and prevents them from attacking.
2. Beneficial Insects
As much as stink bugs like to feed on your plants, there are some insects that like to feed on them.
3. Neem Oil
This a natural vegetable oil that is derived from the crushed seeds of the neem tree.
Two teaspoons of neem oil mixed with 4 cups of warm water and sprayed onto leaves and entry points will disrupt the feeding and mating habits of stink bugs.
4. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
This is a naturally occurring mineral often used as a non-chemical alternative to traditional pesticides.
Available at your local farm store, diatomaceous earth works by breaking down the protective coating (the waxy layer on the bug’s body), causing it to dry out and die.
5. Trap Plants
In much the same way as hunting decoys are used, certain plants can be used to lure stink bugs away from your garden plants. You can either let them stay at their new location or remove and destroy them.
Amaranth, okra, mustard, sunflower, and sweetcorn can all be used with good effect.
6. Soapy Water
A simple home remedy, soap and water solution is an effective way to kill stink bugs.
Similar to DE, it breaks down the protective coating on their bodies and leaves them dehydrated.
A mixture of water and organic insecticidal soap sprayed directly onto the bugs’ body works best.
7. Manually Remove Them
Something as simple as hanging a wet piece of cloth or towel over a lawn chair or porch railing overnight will result in a bug-covered platform in the morning.
The entire thing can then be dropped into a bucket of soapy water, effectively destroying the hangers-on.
You also walk through your garden and pick them off one-by-one as they appear.
8. Hose Them Off
Get rid of these critters by utilizing the high-pressure setting on your garden hose to blow them off your leaves.
Hosing won’t necessarily destroy the bugs, but for immediate action, it can be a useful tactic.
9. Sticky Fly Tape
Not so much for regular use in the garden as it can trap other beneficial bugs, but traditional sticky fly tapes or papers can be an effective measure against stink bugs getting into the garden or home.
Line your garden or border affected crops with this trap.
For home use, position the tape along window sills, doorways, vents, and openings. Be warned though, it will need changing regularly to keep the odor down.
10. Get Rid of Weeds
Keeping weeds and overgrowths down in your garden should be your first line of defense against stink bugs.
They use these areas for cover and are the first ports of call for newly hatched bugs.
11. Garlic Spray
Oddly enough, for a creature that protects itself through smell, the stink bug is sensitive to certain smells itself, particularly garlic.
You can cut up a couple of garlic cloves and place them in areas where you know stink bugs hang out.
Alternatively, try mixing 6 teaspoons of garlic powder into 3 cups of water and spraying on vulnerable areas.
12. Hot Pepper Spray
A solution from jalapenos, habaneros, Thai red chilies, etc. will kill stink bugs immediately.
Soak the peppers overnight in warm water, strain the liquid into a spray bottle, and you’re locked and loaded!
Follow the instructions on the container for best results.
What do Stink Bugs Eat?
Stink bugs basically live and feed off plants. Hatching in the spring, young bugs will feed on weeds and grass, moving on as adults into orchards, vegetable gardens, and fields.
Fruits are a particular favorite with apple, peach, and berry crops all under threat.
Like many insects, stink bugs feed by releasing saliva into whatever is being consumed. In the case of fruit, the bug’s saliva reacts with the fruit’s enzymes causing the fruit to bruise and scar.
The scar distorts the appearance of the fruit to the point where it can look like the face of a cat. As a result, in certain areas stink bugs are referred to as ‘cat-facing insects’.
Damages Caused by Them
There’s no getting away from the real truth that stink bugs are a big issue for many farmers.
In 2010, it was estimated they caused damage to the Mid Atlantic state’s apple crop in excess of $37m.
Some stone fruit farmers reported the complete loss of their harvest for that same year. With their tastes not restricted to fruit, they will have a go at pretty much anything in your garden.
Damage caused is similar to that of the leaf-footed bug. They are voracious and like many other imported pests, adapt easily to new climates and food sources.
Not certain if the bug you’ve seen in your garden is a stink bug? There are some things to look out for that will help identify this particular unwelcome guest.
- First off, their shape. Stink bugs have a triangular or ‘shield’ shaped body. They can be anything from half an inch to an inch in length, with females generally being bigger.
- Another big one is the smell. They literally stink!
- They fly, but due to their size and shape tend to be quite slow and make a loud buzzing noise. You’ll rarely see just one, in fact at certain times of the year you could be seeing hundreds, even thousands at the same time.
- Stink Bugs tend to be dormant in the winter/cooler months.
- Female bugs lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves during early spring, with anything from 30 to 100 being laid at a time.
Certain other types of insects can sometimes wrongly be identified as stink bugs, due mainly to similarities in their shape.
The biggest clue you’ll find though in identifying a stink bug is, of course, the smell. Try touching one and you’ll know straight away.
Stink Bug Facts
Stink bugs are the insect equivalent of skunks. Like skunks, they give off a strong, unpleasant odor when they’re cornered or threatened.
Unlike skunks though, the time you’re most likely to encounter this smell is if you crush or touch one in your home or garden.
Originally from South Asia and sometimes known as ‘shield bugs’ due to their shield-shaped bodies, stink bugs are an accidentally imported pest.
Showing up in the US for the first time in the late ’90s, stink bugs now have a foothold across the globe, as strong and unpleasant as their smell.
Types of Stink Bugs
There are more than 200 different types of stink bugs currently found in the US alone.
The most common is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. It has the same distinct triangular shape body of all stink bugs but is easily identified by its markings.
Adult bugs grow to around an inch and have a brown speckled body. An alternating band of black and white around the edge of the bug’s body is this variety’s main identifier.
Harlequin Bugs are another of the stink bug types, found mainly in the southern states. They’re typically red in color with black spots on their bodies. They feed on vegetables and can easily take out an entire plot if not controlled.
Similarly, the Southern Green Stink Bug prefers a warmer climate. Bright green in color these pests mainly feed on fruit crops.
Rice Stink Bugs have a golden color with a spikey body. As the name suggests, rice is their main target, but other grasses can also be affected.
Forest Bugs, again not surprisingly, are found mostly in wooded areas but can create havoc for a variety of nut and fruit trees. They are brown in color and have shoulder spikes.
What do Stink Bugs Smell Like?
If you’ve ever come across these bugs in your garden, you’ll know right away that they’re appropriately named — they do literally stink!
The stench comes from chemicals released by the bug when it feels threatened or gets squashed.
Interestingly, different types of stink bugs give off different stinks, so describing what a stink bug smells like can be tricky.
Back to our friend the skunk, some people say stink bugs give off a similar sort of smell, while others claim the smell is akin to anything from burnt tires to cilantro.
Collectively, the best way to describe the smell is as … a stink.
Do Stink Bugs Bite?
Despite being a nasty pest, stink bugs are not known as biters or stingers. Unlike mosquitoes or bed bugs, blood is not a food source for them.
They do not possess the anatomical capability to bite or pierce through human skin. Fortunately, we’re too tough and unappetizing for them.
The stink bug fly is bad news for your garden. They’ll destroy your fruit trees, decimate your vegetable plot, and demolish your ornamental plants.
With a little planning and some improvisation, it is possible to keep stink bug infestation control without the use of harmful chemicals.
We’ve mentioned a list of natural home remedies and products to get rid of stink bugs in the garden.
The trick is to stay on top of them and not give them the opportunity, (just like a skunk) to stink the place out!