Stink Bugs in the Garden

Scientists classify most stink bugs as “plant feeders.” This means that stink bugs attack plants for food. The bugs use their mouth to pierce the skin of the plant. Then they suck the juice.

Adult stink bugs spend the winter under stones or boards, under ground cover or under clumps of dead weeds. They often hide in ditches and along fence lines during the winter.

When spring comes, the stink bugs become active. They come out of their hiding places and feed on any plants that are available. The emerging stink bugs often feed on weeds and thistles.

The adult stink bugs deposit their eggs in these same areas. They attach the eggs to the underside of leaves. The eggs stick to the leaves until they hatch.

As they develop, the immature stink bugs, called nymphs, begin to move out into nearby areas to find more food. They migrate into fields, and orchards. They also move into residential yards and home gardens.

In these locations, stink bugs attack a wide array of plants that are available. They feed on ornamental plants and flowers. They attack fruits, including apples, peaches and berries. They also attack garden produce like beans, green peppers and tomatoes.

Stink bugs do not often attack in large numbers. However, if the stink bug population grows very large, they can cause serious damage to crops in gardens.

Many gardeners have learned to manage stink bug populations by managing the environments where they develop. These gardeners remove as many boards, boxes and clutter as possible from the property. They trim the weeds and grass around the property and remove any piles of clippings. They even trim the weeds in ditches and along fences.

The result is that in the spring there are fewer stink bugs to start new infestations. By preventing adult stink bugs from surviving through the winter, gardeners ensure that there will be fewer stink bugs attacking the garden during the following spring and summer.