Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's that smell???

Fall brings us many wonderful also brings stink bugs. These shield-shaped bugs are notorious for having a foul order. They use it for protection in the wild, and although you may find them spring thru early winter in our area, their most prolific seasons are spring and fall.
While they are a pest in the garden, they can also become one in your home. Being attracted to light, they tend to maneuver toward it and as the weather cools will find cracks and crannies to enter your abode. Just make sure you have the cracks around your windows and doors sealed, and keep screens in good repair. A few can be picked up and thrown away. Use a paper towel or gloves though as they may emit their 'not to pleasant odor' on you. Closing your shades at night may lesson the attraction to your inner sanctum as well. I keep a lot of lights on outside at night as a theft preventative measure. If you do the same you may want to occasionally check these areas for infestation.
In the garden, they attack crops mostly...broccoli, cauliflower, soy beans and others. They do so by piercing the fruit, leaf or stem with their sharp 'snout' and sucking out the juices. Although I have killed many of these this year and have never gotten bitten, I am told that they can pierce human skin. It feels rather like a pin prick so again gloves may be in order. If you do use a vaccumn, which you can, just be aware that if they are crushed thy can still stink!
There are some sprays that can work on them. They are a sizable bug and you would have to go with something harsh. Maintenance seems to be the best way to control them. I recently found a big infestation in one of my greenhouses. And yes...they were on a crop plant, my edible portulaca (Purslane oleracea 'Golden mammoth') so I just got a plastic garbage bag and cut off the tops of the plants with the bugs on them and threw them in the trash (after doing my famous bug dance on top of them). Remember that the potential to emit their fragrance grows stronger with crushing and handling so a trash bag is a good idea. Then I looked for any eggs...Their eggs can be various colors, white, reddish, green, and are found clustered under leaves usually. Squishing them can end an entire generation...sans the that is a good way to control them too.
Like almost all pests in the garden or home, vigilance in observation is the primary way to control both disease, insects and bugs.
For more information, go to your independent Garden Centers, they will have both the knowledge and the products to assist you.
Happy Gardening,