Various species of this pest are found throughout the United States, though they are more common in the South. Stink bugs are shield-shaped and may be green, brown, or bluish-gray. They give off an unpleasant odor when crushed. Stink bugs are primarily pests of crop fields. They can also be found in meadows, fields, yards, or gardens and especially those with low shrubs. They are most active from spring through fall, but they usually become house invaders at the beginning of fall when temperatures start to drop. Stink bugs feed on okra, squash, beans, tomatoes, and a number of other plants by sucking plant juices. New shoots may wilt, and fruits are distorted with hard, dimpled areas. Adults overwinter in garden debris and in nearby weedy areas. There are several generations per year.
Prevention and Control
For your garden invasions, insecticidal soap and neem oil sprays will help, however you will need to spray the stink bugs directly since the soap has no residual affect. Pyrethrin and rotenone are broad spectrum products that are safe to use in gardens, around pets and children and kill a wide range of pests. Keep weeds around the garden in control. Clean up the garden at the end of the season.
To avoid stink bugs from coming indoors, seal your house by closing doors and windows. Check for cracks in your siding, windows, doors, utility pipes, behind chimneys, or other openings. Replace ripped window and door screens and install screens on attic vents. Inspect entries to crawl spaces to make sure they are properly sealed. For those that do get in, be warned before sucking them into the vacuum cleaner; squashing them will usually make the smell worse. Be sure to wear gloves if you need to handle stink bugs because they do bite, similar to a sharp pinprick.
Exterior insecticide treatments to the sides of your home will provide relief as well. Keep in mind that insecticides break down in sunlight, so retreatment may be necessary. Remember to always read and follow the product labels.
Agway carries many products for pest control. See your local Agway dealer and ask “The People Who Know” which products will work best on your pest problem. Click HERE to find an Agway dealer near you.
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