Shield bugs -- often called stinkbugs -- release an odor when threatened, which is how the bug earned its common name. They are found primarily in the eastern and southern parts of the United States. Home gardeners who wish to rid their gardens of these pests need not reach for harsh chemicals. Instead, they can whip up a homemade concoction to get rid of the bugs.
Stinkbugs can pose a threat to your plants. Many of these chewing insects are rather innocuous for the most part, but they can cause cosmetic damage to flowers and edibles, and in large swarms, they have been known to severely damage crops, according to the University of Arizona Center for Science Outreach. In fact, the brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys), which arrived in the United States sometime in the mid-1990s, is now considered a serious threat to America's fruit and vegetable crops. Although the most effective way to kill large populations outdoors is with a chemical pesticide, many home gardeners prefer a less toxic, more inexpensive alternative.
Kill With Chilies
Mix up a spicy concoction that will be too hot for the pests to handle. Chop up four hot peppers -- the hotter, the better -- with four onions and two bulbs of garlic. Set aside. Fill a lidded container with 2 liters of water and add a squirt or two of liquid soap. Mix the soap into the water. Put all of the chopped vegetables into the soapy water and place the lid on top. Let it steep for 24 hours, strain the pulp and then add it to a spray bottle. Spray the bugs on a still day and protect your skin and eyes while spraying. Because of the hard bodies of the bugs, the spray may not kill them outright, and you will probably have to apply it several times throughout the growing season. If spraying near plants, test on a small area of the plant a few days before applying to the whole plant. Wear gloves when chopping the hot peppers.
Smother With Soap
Shield bugs have hard shells, so chemicals don't penetrate them very well. They have to be killed in other ways. One effective way to do so is to drown them in soapy water. Choose a 1/2- or 1-gallon bucket -- one with vertical sides -- and fill it about one-fourth of the way full with water. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid soap and mix it up a bit. Knock the shield bugs off your plants and into the bucket. You can use a stick to do this or slip on some gardening gloves and use your hands. The shield bugs won't be able to climb up the sides and will eventually drown.
Indoor Shield Bugs
Shield bugs often work their way indoors, and spraying pesticides -- even homemade ones -- indoors is not a good option. As the bugs die, they will begin to sink, and you might not even know where the smell is coming from if the insects died behind walls or under vents. Instead, use manual methods to rid your home of these pests. Line a vacuum hose with a nylon stocking and then vacuum them up -- this will prevent them from going to the filter bag and stinking it up. When finished, carefully remove the stocking and throw it out. Alternately, pick them up by hand with a garbage bag -- be careful not to squeeze them -- or with the sticky side of duct tape.
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