Two pests that many gardeners encounter at one time or another are the stinkbug and the ant (Lasius alienus). Ants can also be an indicator of a potential aphid problem because they like to feed off the honeydew produced by aphids. Stinkbugs can contribute to a challenging garden experience, especially if you are growing cabbage (Brassica oleracea). The harlequin bug (Murgantia histrionic) is one such stinkbug that can devastate a cabbage patch.
Natural Pesticides for Stinkbugs
For those who prefer to battle pests naturally, there are options. Organic gardening expert Andrew Lopez suggests natural pesticides such as citrus oil, coconut oil, peppermint oil, sabadilla and rotenone. These may also work against ants. The oils can be mixed with natural biodegradable liquid soap for spraying. Avoid using detergents since they tend to be chemical. Adding an organic or natural hot pepper sauce to the soap mixture can enhance its effectiveness. The Environmental Protection Agency approved the organic pesticides azadirachtin and pyrethrins for use on stinkbugs in 2011.
Chemical Pesticides for Stinkbugs
Deltamethrin, cypermethrin, bifenthrin and beta-cyfluthrin — these are active ingredients in some of the leading brands of pesticides effective against stinkbugs. Deltamethrin is effective against many different insects besides stinkbugs, including ants, spiders, roaches and wasps. It can kill stinkbugs for up to three months and can be used indoors or outdoors. Cypermethrin is a powerful insecticide used by professionals but available to nonprofessionals. Bifenthrin kills more than 75 insect pests and can be used in the yard or inside. It can also be used in food handling areas and won’t break down in rainfall. Beta-cyfluthrin is another broad-spectrum insecticide effective against the stinkbug. In the summer of 2011, the EPA made an emergency exemption and allowed the insecticide dinotefuran to be used against an infestation of brown marmorated stinkbugs (Halyomorpha halys) in the eastern United States. The exemption allowed growers of stone and pome fruits two applications per season.
Natural Pesticides for Ants
Natural pesticides are also available for ants. Lopez writes, “Any organic biodegradable soap, or scented mixtures such as mint extract, garlic oil extracts, or Tobasco sauce can be used to spray on ants.” For the outdoors, he recommends a recipe of ½ tablespoon of pyrethrum, ½ tablespoon of diatomaceous earth, 5 drops of any natural liquid soap, 5 drops of sesame oil and a tablespoon of Tobasco sauce. Add water slowly until the mixture becomes slurry. Stir mixture until you get a paste, and then slowly add the paste to a quart of water, stirring until ingredients are dissolved. Once ingredients have settled, pour them through a strainer into a quart sprayer and spray the ants directly. If the ants are inside your house, he recommends adding 1 capful of biodegradable soap per quart of water. For increased effectiveness, citronella oil may be added at a few drops per gallon. Citronella interferes with the ant’s ability to make markings and signal to others. Using pine oil is another option. When mixed half and half with water, pure pine oil will kill ants. Just don’t spray it on plants directly. Phenethyl propionate is another natural, botanical insecticide that is also available.
Chemical Pesticides for Ants
The list of chemical pesticides for use on ants can be lengthy, but some of the more common active ingredients in the ones on the market include deltamethrin, pyrethins, piperonyl butoxide, amorphous silica gel, cyfluthrin, and fipronil. Deltamethrin, which is used for stinkbugs too, is described as the world’s first 100 percent waterproof insecticide when used as a dust. Applied properly, it will kill ants for up to eight months. Pyrethins, piperonyl butoxide and amorphous silica gel are used together to form a nonstaining, odorless insecticide dust that kills ants and other pests for up to six months. Cyfluthrin is another insecticide dust that kills not only ants but a number of other pests including, but not limited to, bed bugs, roaches, crickets, beetles, ticks and fleas. Fipronil, an insecticide spray, is effective against termites as well as ants. These chemicals should always be used with care.
- Natural Pest Control: Andrew Lopez
- ConsumerReports.org: EPA approves two insecticides to control stink bugs
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images