If you saw one at random, you might not think of the stink bug as a threat. With their distinctive, brightly colored shells, they could almost look like oversized ladybugs. But while ladybugs are a welcome guest in any garden, stink bugs are a much fouler intruder.
Not only are stink bugs bad for plants and backyard gardens, but serious infestations can pose a threat to commercial crops. To analyze the danger they can pose, let’s take a look at what these pests are, the damage they can do, and how to control them.
What Are Stink Bugs?
Stink bugs are colorful insects that range from 1/4 to 1 inch long and about half as broad. They have roughly shield-shaped shells with a triangle-shaped horn on the back. They come in a variety of colors, with the most recognizable ones having bright yellow or orange markings.
As their name implies, stink bugs have a foul defense mechanism. When threatened by a predator, they will release an offensive odor to dissuade an attack.
Will Stink Bugs Kill My Plants?
Stink bugs are plant feeders. Like aphids, they’ll infest a plant and pierce its skin, siphoning off its juices for food.
A few stink bugs are unlikely to kill a plant. However, they can weaken them, and make them more susceptible to disease and other pests.
And when a major stink bug infestation takes root, it can pose a significant problem. As far back as 1985, stink bugs were a recognized threat to staple crops like corn. They can likewise wreak havoc on orchards, where succulent fruits make for an attractive target.
The main cause of infestations is clutter and debris in the area. During the cold months, stink bugs shelter under any ground cover they can find. Rocks, wooden boards, and clumps of dead weeds are all suitable shelter. There, they can lay clutches of eggs in quantity.
When springtime comes around, the eggs hatch, letting loose large numbers of these plant feeders.
How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs
The best way to deal with stink bugs is prevention. Working in the fall and winter to deny them the environments that they need to breed will prevent outbreaks in the spring and summer.
Removing stray boards, boxes, and clutter will help deprive them of places to lay eggs. Keeping up with regular weeding and disposing of piles of yard clippings is likewise important.
If an infestation does develop, you should treat them like any other pest and eradicate them with extreme prejudice. A high-grade insecticide like Venerate is often your best option.
Controlling Pests Before They Take Over Your Garden
As with any pest, preventing stink bugs from gaining a foothold in your garden is the best way to deal with them. Failing that, swift and decisive action to eradicate them is the next best course of action.
And unfortunately, they’re far from the only pest that can wreak havoc on your property. To learn how to prevent other pests from establishing a base in your house or yard, be sure to follow our latest home and garden tips and guides.