Stink Bugs & the Tomato Gardener

End_of_Summer_Tomatoes

**Image credited from wikipedia.org tomato article

As a gardener you may face challenges with specific pests throughout the growing season.  Stink bugs may raise such challenge if you have tomato plants.  While more of a cosmetic pest of the home that doesn’t cause much real damage, these little guys love tomatoes and without quick action and prevention may ruin all of your hard work.  As they become larger in population, most of us know what the bug itself looks like but you may be wondering how to identify damage to your tomato plants.  On green fruit, damage appears as dark small spots like pin pricks surrounded by light discoloration that turns yellow or remains light green on ripe fruit. Fissures below the surface may turn corky. Stink bugs may also carry yeast and other pathogens on their mouths that may cause fruit decay when introduced during feeding. A few fields have been significantly damaged by yeast introduced by stink bugs.

Prevention gets a little more extensive since this involves more than attempting to seal off entry and vacuuming up any travelers.  Controlling the area is a great method, if you eliminate weeds, legumes, blackberries, Russian thistle, mustard, and little mallow from the area you wish to plant tomatoes this will eliminate plants that stink bugs use for shelter in winter.  If you are looking for good natural pesticides, kaolin clay and insecticidal soap sprays are great choices.

If using pesticides, the following tips may be helpful in it’s effectiveness.

  • Good canopy penetration of insecticides is essential because most stink bugs are located on the ground at any given time of day.
  • Apply via ground equipment; as ground applications provide much better coverage than do aerial sprays that cannot reach bugs deep within the plant canopy or on the soil under the plants.
  • Use hollow-cone nozzles or air-assist sprayers to improve canopy penetration.
  • Consider reducing tractor speed and increasing application volume to improve coverage.
  • If water volume is increased, use the highest label rate of pesticide.

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