Stink Bug – Identification and Control

Stink Bug - Identification and Control
Stink Bug – Identification and Control

Stink Bug Identification

  • Adults are 5/8 inch (16 mm) long.
  • They have a shield shape or triangle on their backs.
  • The color can vary depending on the species, but they are usually green, dark brown, or greenish-brown.
  • They have a few light-colored bands on the antennae.
  • They have a dark pattern on the outer edge of the abdomen.
  • The eggs are light blue or light green 1/32 inch (1 mm) in diameter and are laid in a cluster.
  • Nymphs are wingless insects of a similar shape, just much smaller.
  • Nymphs have brighter colors than adults.

Stink Bug Lifecycle

Stink bugs will overwinter as adults. They will leave their overwintering sites in spring in search of food. After that, the mating begins. Females will lay eggs in clusters on the underside of leaves. Nymphs (instar I) will hatch and will start to feed. All stages of this pest will feed on plant matter.

All stink bugs are hemimetabolous insects, meaning they have no pupal stage in the transition from instar to adult. These insects will go through 5 instar stages before becoming winged adult bugs. Stink bugs can have up to 3 generations per year.

At the end of the growing season, when the daylight and temperature decrease, these bugs will find overwintering sites. Then they will enter winter diapause until the next growing season begins. [1]

Damage They Cause

Stink bugs are invasive insects. Their invasion can cause severe damage not only to backyard growers. These garden pests pierce the plant or fruit tissue and inject enzymes that turn the area into a liquid. Then they suck the juice, causing stunning of the plant, discoloration, dimpling, and corking of fruit.

Plants They Attack

These pests are not picky eaters. They have over 200 host plants and will feed on many vegetables and most fruits. Some crops that stink bugs will feast on are:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Beans
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes

Live Biological Control

To control the stink bug population, attract predatory insects to your garden, such as:

Install bird feeders. They will encourage bird visits as they are natural predators of these pests. Also, Install a garden pond to attract frogs. They will eat these bugs too.

Organic Control

Insecticides are ineffective in controlling stink bugs as they have developed resistance against certain insecticidal chemicals.

Spray horticultural oil or insecticidal soap directly on these bugs. Neem oil will also work… Most of the time.

Preventive actions

  • Pick stink bugs up and throw them into a bucket with soapy water.
  • Sow trap plants like sweetcorn, okra, sunflower, and mustard to keep the stink bugs away from your main crops.
  • Trap stink bugs by using pheromone traps.

More About Stink Bugs

Stink bugs look very similar to one of the beneficial insects called spined soldier bugs. Do not remove them from your garden! The picture below compares both insects. The most apparent difference between the two insects is their shield shape. Stink bugs have an oval shield on their backs, while spined soldier bugs have a spiky shield.

Stink Bug vs Spined Soldier Bug
Stink Bug vs Spined Soldier Bug

What to Do Next

Check out our other Garden Pests Guides. Read and learn more about how to identify and control garden pests.

Check out our Beneficial Insects Guides. Read and learn about their benefit and how to attract them.

Also, check out our Gardening Guides to learn easy step-by-step tutorials on how to grow plants.

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