Boy, my garden sure does stink

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

By Ty Torrance


Well, if it isn’t the heat causing the problems in the garden, it could be one of our worst garden pests: the stink bug.

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As I tell most people, entomologists are not very imaginative people, so you can probably guess where this garden invader gets its name. They produce a foul odor when disturbed which is meant to fend off predators.

There are several stink bugs that are of concern in our gardens, and they pretty much feed on all of the crops we grow. They feed by piercing pods to get to seeds, husks to get to kernels or the skin to get to the inside of tomatoes. There is not much that a stink bug won’t at least taste.

The majority of stink bugs I see are brown, which is probably because we have two brown species. We also have two green stink bug species, along with leaf footed bugs, which are a close relative to the stink bug and are commonly mistaken for one. They have similar feeding habits and are usually treated similarly. The problem with controlling stink bugs is that they are strong flyers and opportunistic feeders. If you are able to kill a population in your garden their cousins are waiting in the weeds to take their turn at the buffet.

This has been a particularly bad year, and I have been recommending that people spray as often as the label allows. There are several products that are affective against stink bugs if you can get it on them. The pyrethroids like bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, esfenvalerate, gamma-cyhalothrin and lambda-cyhalothrin work well and have relatively short pre-harvest intervals. Be aware that these are active ingredients in the insecticides not the trade names. These active ingredients can be found on the front of every insecticide with a percentage beside them letting you know how much active ingredient is in each container. Every company out there has an insecticide with these active ingredients in them and they all work the same as long as the percentage is the same.

These are pretty much the only options for the home gardener, so I guess we have to take what we can get. On the positive side, these chemicals can be used on a lot of other garden plants and will control a wide variety of our common pests. As always, follow label directions, and if you have questions about the label, give us a call. They make those things about as easy to read as the contract on a new house. For more information, call me at (229) 248-3033.