Did you have stink bugs in your house last winter? How about in your garden this summer? We have two native stink bugs (brown and green) that have been a minor problem for a while, and they both had a very good year, but what you’ve probably been seeing in greater numbers is the relatively new interloper, the brown marmorated stink bug. They are sucking the life out of my tomatoes and I have also seen them on peppers, corn and beans as well as a few other crops. It was hard to tell what they were doing on the corn to begin with — just hanging around having a stink bug party, maybe — but now, having harvested some corn that hosted those parties, I think I can see damage to individual kernels that might have been made right through the husk.
Visit the Grow It Eat It main website for a synopsis of pest and disease problems affecting the food garden this summer, including lots of information on stink bugs. Also check out the Current Plant and Pest Problems page for details on other common food garden pests. I think I’ve had them all this year!
Pests and diseases can be disheartening and make you want to give up on food growing, especially when you lose an entire crop. But I’ve found that the more you know about a pest or disease, the more you end up searching for solutions instead of throwing in the trowel. When a pest like the brown marmorated stink bug starts devastating farms and gardens, a lot of attention in the agricultural and scientific communities goes toward combating it, including with organic methods. Let’s hope that in a few years we’ll know the best ways to fight these pests and won’t have to watch them having parties on our food!