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How to protect your garden from stinkbugs

The brown marmorated stinkbug seem to be a never-ending concern in Maryland. In fall and winter they invade Baltimore area homes and in summer they eat our fruits and vegetables. These bugs have a shield shaped back with a mottled brown pattern. As they emerge during the spring the first thing they do is feed on common garden plants such as fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. Stinkbugs pierce the surface of the plant and suck out the juices. There are a few things gardeners can do to keep stinkbugs from damaging plants.

1.) Know what brown marmorated stinkbugs look like, from eggs to mature adults. The eggs are barrel shaped, light green and found on the bottoms of leaves. Nymphs begin as yellow mottled with black and red but soon grow to resemble adult stinkbugs.
2.) Recognize the signs of stinkbugs. Look for excess pitting, dimpling, catfacing (scarring) or waterlogged lesions. Okra and beans will show deformed shriveled pods or warty growths. Stinkbug feeding areas in tomatoes and peppers show up as whitish blotches.
3.) Choose early or determinate (bearing over a short period of time) varieties of tomatoes, such as Early Girl. If stinkbugs are a problem in your garden it is possible to get a crop before they get too bad.
4.) Use floating row covers as a barrier.
5.) Remove stinkbugs by hand and toss them into soapy water. Insecticides can be problematic as many are not effective with stinkbugs and may kill beneficial insects in the process.

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences has some good photos of stinkbugs and stinkbug damage on their web site. We many not know when stinkbugs will go away, but at least we can take steps to prevent them.

Other stinkbug articles by the Baltimore Gardening Examiner
Examiner: Stinkbugs in the garden
Squidoo: Stinkbug Invasion!
Suite 101:Controlling the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

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