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How To Fight Back Against Stink Bugs

usdagov / Flickr
 

usdagov / Flickr

Populations of the brown marmorated stink bug are increasing in Sacramento, and seven other counties around California. The tiny pest can inflict significant  damage on fruit and vegetable crops, but there are ways to keep the bug from spreading. 

Stink bugs look like a miniature spider when they hatch. Adults are approximately 17 mm long (25 mm = one inch). They usually travel in swarms that crawl rapidly over fruit and vegetables.

Pam Bone is a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener. She says the clusters can attack with vigor.

"They pierce the fruit and they inject a little toxin type of an enzyme in there and then they suck out the material in the fruit that they’re feeding on, leave then dried out, hard, pithy pockmarks," she says.

In addition to inspecting crops for the tiny pest, Bone suggests you check your garden for small white eggs, or any unusual damage to produce.

She doesn’t suggest using chemical sprays or pesticides.

"You knock them off into soapy water, because crushing them they’ll emit a horrible odor, they really smell," she says.

The brown marmorated stink bug is only a nuisance to gardeners and farmers. It doesn't bite or sting.