Bugs that stink

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!

11 Comments on “Bugs that stink

  1. What a devastating, invasive pest–the brown marmorated stink bug. They caused serious damage to my tomatoes this summer–probably a 50% loss on cherries and 75% or more on large reds. But, yes, horticultural scientists are studying the issue. Hopefully we'll have additional guidance before Summer 2011. In the meantime, mentally put a sticker on your bumper: Stick Bugs Stink.

  2. I hate these guys too! Do you think there's a problem (like beyond philosophically) with eating fruits/veggies with stink bug damage on them?

  3. Wendy, no problem with eating bug-damaged crops as long as they don't get a subsequent fungus or bacteria entering the wound – cut out any parts that look or smell suspicious. Philosophically, I'd think you want to show the bugs they haven't totally spoiled your food! But I can report that bug-damaged cherry tomatoes are just not worth eating. 🙁

  4. We found some on our sweet bell peppers plant. They fave fun sucking on the peepers. Grrrr according to my wife.

    Today, she invented a new game: dunk the stink bugs in a soapy bole of water. She say: it's fun !!! 🙂

  5. They've gotten to all my green and Anaheim peppers (only one of each plant has they have both been producing a huge crop)this year. When I read that they inject their saliva into the plant while sucking the juice out, I pretty much lost my appetite for trying to eat any of the peppers that looked salvageable.

  6. I started knocking them into a jar of soapy water, unfortunately this time of year, the mosquitoes are feasting on me while I'm fighting the stink bugs. They've destroyed my strawberries and peppers. I'm dreading what they're going to do to my tomatoes once they start to ripen. So depressing 🙁

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