How to Control Stink Bugs Organically

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Stink bugs have a distinct appearance. Measuring approximately 1/2 inch in length, this pest has an angular body shape, a brown or bright green hue and a pair of long antennae. If left to roam freely, stink bugs will eat the foliage and fruit on a wide array of garden plants. Prevent and eradicate stink bugs with a combination of organic, natural controls.

Get Rid of Weeds

Weeds aren't just an eyesore. Weeds are also one of the most common attractants for stink bugs, drawing the insects to the garden in droves. Prevent stink bugs by eliminating all weeds around the perimeters of the landscape. Additionally, monitor and remove weeds that pop up among desirable plants, and consider using a couple inches of mulch to prevent more weeds from invading garden and flower beds.

Remove Stink Bugs by Hand

Stink bugs are large and easy to see, making them prime candidates for physical removal by hand. When done regularly, handpicking can efficiently and effectively keep the stink bug population from reaching numbers high enough to cause widespread damage in the garden.

  • Wear gloves and pick the adult stink bugs off by hand. Crush them or drop them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them.
  • Check the underside of leaves for stink bug egg sacs. Pluck off the affected leaves and crush them or drop them in a bucket of soapy water.
  • Use a handheld portable vacuum for faster stink bug removal. When you're finished, remove the vacuum's cleaner bag. Place the bag in a sealed plastic bag and toss the bag into the freezer for a couple days to kill the collected stink bugs.

Tip

  • To be effective, inspection and hand removal must be done daily. Collect stink bugs in the early morning when the cooler temperatures make the pests sluggish.

Attract Predatory Wasps

Predatory wasps attack stink bug egg sacs, breaking the pest's life cycle and eliminating the problem organically and naturally. Attract the wasps to your garden by planting beneficial companion herbs and flowers that attract bees, wasps and butterflies. Example plants that predatory wasps find irresistible include:

  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), which thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), for USDA zones 4 through 9
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), for USDA zones 5 through 9

Grow these beneficial plants as a border around vegetable or garden beds.

Warning

  • Folk remedies suggest eucalyptus plants may deter or repel stink bugs. However, this has yet to be fully studied.

Apply Floating Row Covers

Floating row covers create a physical barrier that keeps stink bugs from finding and feeding on plants. A row cover is essentially an ultralight cloth cover that drapes loosely over a garden bed but still allows water and sunlight to reach the covered plants.

Drape a row cover over the garden plant you want to protect from stink bugs. The fabric is so lightweight, it doesn't need support. Keep the floating row cover from blowing away by securing the edges of the cloth into the soil using U-shaped garden pins. Both the row cover fabric and the garden pins can be found at most garden stores and nurseries.

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