Friday, August 30, 2013

The Insect That Has Affected Our Summer, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug!

We Over Protected Our Favorite!
Cuts in the Stems Killed New Growth!
My Hands Turned Orange from Catching Them!
We Have Captured A Lot of Stink Bugs on These Fragrant Hosta Flowers
If You Look Up Just Passed This Fig Leaf, The Praying Mantis Has a Stink Bug in Its Grasp!
The Herbal Husband Killed a Stink Bug Eating This Fig!
White Markings Beneath the Skin of the Yellow Pepper.  It was Still Edible.
Several years ago it was the Japanese beetles we were most concerned about in the garden, but mostly for ornamental plants.  Now we are concerned about the brown marmorated stink bug and we have more concerns about damage to fruits and vegetables than ornamental plants.  My bug juice jar has gone from being called beetle juice to stink bug juice.  I have been catching them in my bare hands and dropping them in the jar.  Gloves are tougher to use for me.  I don't squish them, but The Herbal Husband gets pleasure in doing so.  So I have orange stains on my hands at the moment.  I think our numbers are under 50 a day, but that's a lot considering some people haven't seen one.

The top photo is one of an over protected lemon verbena.  The Herbal Husband decided that bringing it in at night would protect it from the stink bug's bites.  Little did he know that the stink bugs were hiding under the rim of the container and coming in with the plant at night.  The browning of the leaves is a cause of temperatures changes and overwatering.  He loved it a bit too much.  The second photo is the death of young lemon verbena leaves from a cut made by the stink bug.  I wrote about the stink bug and other lemon verbena thoughts in The Lemon Verbena Tales:  New Pests and Harvesting Tips for The Herb Companion now Mother Earth Living.  You will see one of my older lemon verbena with very distinct stink bug damage.  It forces new growth, the good news, but if there are enough cuts it can weaken the plant.

The third photo is the orange tattoo-like marks that the stink bug leaves on your hands.  The Herbal Husband said that he had a burning sensation when he squished one and the juices got into a cut on his hand.  Well, I think you have some food for thought.  No pun intended, but the southeast Asian populations eat stink bugs!  They do have a slight coriander smell.  Just added the fourth photo today (Monday 9/2), because we are finding that stink bugs love the fragrant flowers of the hosta.  We have killed about 20-25 since Friday when I first posted this.  The last photo is from today.  The Herbal Husband found our praying mantis chowing down on a stink bug!  Yippee!  Now if we could only get multiples!  Our numbers of stink bugs have declined.  We've been having cool nights.  We are going to heat up briefly.  So the numbers may come back up.  A constant battle.  This fifth photo was added Wednesday, 9/11 and shows the stink bug (did not live to be on camera) and the damage it did to this ripening fig!  I said to The Herbal Husband, please next time, take a photo and then kill the bug!

I have been in contact with Dr. Art Tucker at Delaware State University who told me that there is just not enough information about what attracts the stink bug to the lemon verbena.  He did say that they are a huge problem with citrus trees in Asian countries!  If you are in a state west of the Mississippi, they may not be on your radar, but if you are in the eastern half of the US, you may or may not have seen them yet.  Like I said some people in the 'Burgh are having problems and others not.  It is still hit or miss.  Will pass more information along as I compile it.

Here is a brief list of plants that are being affected in our garden.  I will add to this list as necessary:

Raspberries (I have caught them on the fruit and the leaves!  They have damaged the fruit as well.)
Apples  (We don't spray our apples, so we have many problems with apples besides the stink bug!)
Figs     (They have been biting the stems, forcing new growth, but potentially killing the plant!)
Beans  (We have caught them eating the flowers!  Some discoloration on the beans.  I'm not sure if that's stink bugs or something else.)
Peppers (We have caught them on the plant and damaging the peppers.)
Hostas (The Herbal Husband caught eight on the flowers!  It's Monday and we have killed almost 20!)
Teasels (They are tough to grab when they are on these plants!)
Sunflowers (They like to sun themselves on the leaves!)

Besides the lemon verbena, no other herbs are bothered (Thank goodness!) by the stink bug.  If this continues, I may have to change my name!

I just want to give you this additional post from a fellow blogger, Mrs. Patty in Oregon who has battled the stink bug for the last three years.  This post called Every Year a Different Bug has a bug load of information on the stink bug.   Especially great are her photo of the eggs and nymphs of the stink bug on her figs!  I will put her blog link in my favorites for you and me.  You also need to read her comment to me and you under this post.  Thanks Mrs. Patty for sharing your knowledge.  If we all share, we will defeat this nasty bug!

Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend if you are in the US.  We have the ickies and stickies here.  Talk to you later.  


Rosemary said...

UGH! So sorry to hear about the bug troubles. Fortunately, we only get one here and there... and even those are disgusting.

lemonverbenalady said...

Thanks Rosemary. Makes us not want to garden anymore! Thanks for stopping by. xo

Anonymous said...

It is so frustrating when you get a pest like this destroying all your hard work. What makes this worse is the wide variety of plants it attacks. I don't think I would include them in my diet. I know insects are widely eaten, but I would need to be starving!

lemonverbenalady said...

I'm just depressed, Tracey! It is getting me down! I would also need to be starving to eat them as well. Thanks for stopping by. xo

Mrs. Patty said...

I first discovered these nasty bugs in September of 2010 here in my Portland Oregon garden. It was a devastating event as I lost 25% of my beans to their piercing sucking mouth parts, several peppers, figs and more. Around here we see them most often beginning in late July. They love Red Orach flower stems and feast on the fruiting seedpods which was where I found large quantities of them...and on those beans. It only takes one little piercing of a bean to ruin it so I have quit growing them for the time being...just too hard to face the loss again.

What I found that worked best for capturing them was a good old-fashioned killing jar. A wide mouthed container filled with a couple inches of rubbing alcohol that I would take out to the garden with me. What I found was they drop off the leaves if you event move toward them and most easily caught by holding the killing jar beneath where they are situated so when they drop down they fall into the alcohol.

We had so many it was necessary to do a patrol every time I was in the garden...several times a day actually. I was near ready to throw in the trowel after that year.

I know there are traps you can make for when they start migrating into the house and phermone traps for them now too. A friend of mine has a door they seem to be attracted to...its a sky blue color so he is going to send in a report about this phenomenon in hopes that we will have another trap option in our arsenal.

I have clear photos including egg clusters and nymphs over on my blog (see link below) if people want to see what they look like. There are two on the 23 and another on the 24th with technical from my experience on both. I hope it will help you and others in this battle. Happy Hunting!

lemonverbenalady said...

Thanks so much Mrs. Patty for the great info! I will make your link a hot one in my post! I also will post your blog as a favorite! xo

Pammy said...

Ewww isn't that stinker ugly!! I'm so sorry!! Just seems things get so out of balance in the bugger world. It has been a very bad year for squash bugs this season here. I hope you've found an answer to this pest. xo

lemonverbenalady said...

It has been a very tough year, Pammy! I have gotten energy to defend my lemon verbenas by writing about this nasty bug! xo