Stink bugs – update

stinkbug2 An environmentally-friendly way of getting rid of stink bugs is to use a stick to knock them into a container with some methylated spirits in the bottom of it, so that you don’t have to come in direct contact with these smelly bugs that change colour from green to orange to brown-black as they grow.
However, a reader e-mailed me this week about his problem with lots of stink bugs on his orange tree that is too tall to use this method, and he wanted to know if he could spray the tree with metho, instead.

Spraying the bugs with methylated spirits would only further damage the tree. If you also have a tree affected by bronze orange bugs (stink bugs), these bugs are a sign that a tree is very under-nourished. It is probably extremely water-stressed, as plants can’t absorb nutrients from soil if it is not damp enough for the minerals to become water-soluble. Give the soil around the affected tree a thorough watering, then give it an application of complete organic fertiliser and then water in some organic seaweed tea. You haven’t said which climate area you live in. If you live in an area where water shortages are common, keep the tree pruned to a size where it can remain healthy on the amount of water that you and nature can provide.

Bronze orange bugs or stink bugs and harlequin bugs are sap sucking pests that can do a lot of damage to stressed citrus trees. Spined citrus bugs suck sap from fruit. Before dealing with these bugs, you need to don old clothes, sturdy shoes, gloves and goggles or sunglasses as bronze orange bugs eject a corrosive fluid with a vile smell when they are threatened.
Young bugs tend to cluster under the lower leaves of the trees and are easy to get at, but if trees are too large for knocking them into a tin, spread some large sheets of plastic under the tree, then use a broom stick or long pole to give the foliage a good shake and, when they drop to the ground, either squash them, or gather up the plastic and slide them into a large container with a suitable pest treatment in the bottom.
Organic-registered products such as Natrasoap (not ordinary soaps or detergents) or Eco-oil will kill these pests but they should not be used on heat-stressed or water stressed plants, or in high temperatures. However, either of these products can be used to spray stink bugs when they shelter around the base of the tree on hot days. Harlequin bugs like to shelter in weeds, and they can be sprayed where they are hiding. Get rid of weeds, particularly along fence lines to prevent re-infestation.
However, the best way to avoid these horrible pests is to take good care of your citrus trees.

2 thoughts on “Stink bugs – update

  1. I have what I call the common harlequin – shield shape – soldier beetle. Getting them into metho. in a bucket is just plain silly, I spray them with soapy water – kitchen detergent, just a squirt into a spray, it blocks up their breathing system. You have to hit/contact them, of course. Do it first thing in the morning when they are coming out, and last thing at night. They are already on my broad beans (7/10/17). They just love tomatoes and suck the colour out of the skin. I was wondering if surface spray would work on a wooden fence? What I wish for is something that would attract them (like snail bail for snails). They like my marsh mellow plant I have a pet one) but it gets a little sick of a shower in the morning! Any help out there? Western district, Victoria. Gwen H.

    Gwen, you should not use kitchen detergent in sprays on plants as it can damage the foliage. A potassium-based soap, such as Natrasoap, is more effective on the pests but will not damage plants. Or, you could try Nature’s Way Citrus Spray, which is an effective killer of these pests. It contains certified organic pyrethrin (without piperonyl butoxide) plus seaweed to help plants’ recovery by strengthening cell walls, and the withholding period is only one day.
    These pests are attracted to the colour yellow, and a yellow container filled with soapy water (kitchen detergent is ok for this) is an effective death trap for these bugs.
    Unfortunately, your pet mallow plant is the preferred host for these pests. You need to get rid of all weeds in the area and look for, and remove, the small barrel-shaped eggs found in clusters on leaves and stems.

  2. hi, i have noticed these bugs n my lemon tree and I tried to take one out with some tongs and it squirted some fluid and landed in my left eye. Now my left eye has turned red. My eyesight is not affected but I am afraid this redness might cause further damage. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Hi Daniel, you should see your doctor immediately. Stinkbug spray is very caustic and can damage the surface of your eyes. You may need some drops or ointment to prevent damage.

    Stinkbug Spray – immediate action: Flush eyes or sprayed skin with plenty of water to dilute the spray. If sprayed in the eye, also see your doctor as soon as possible. – Lyn

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