We've already discussed invasive brown marmorated stink bugs and native Uhler's and rough stink bugs, but there are more than 4700 species of these shield-shaped pests worldwide and over 200 species in North America.
Consperse stink bugs (Euschistus conspersus) are one of those.
Stink bug damage
Nearly all stink bugs are sap-sucking pests. I say ‘nearly’ because stink bugs are omnivores and there are even some predatory stink bugs. We’ll get to them another day. Stink bugs suck the life out of buds, fruits, leaves, and stems. Damage caused early in the growing season can lead to cat-facing later on. If you find corky areas underneath the skin of fruits, it was probably stink bug feeding. Being omnivores, stink bugs also eat pesky beetle and caterpillar larvae, so they aren’t all bad. I still don’t want them in my garden.
Consperse stink bugs, in particular, love apples and pears over everything else. They are also fond of almonds, blackberries, mustards, and many vegetables, including beans and tomatoes. Damage is worst during dry summers.
Consperse stink bug identification
Adult consperse stink bugs are ½” long and have greenish-grey to pale brown shield-shaped bodies, yellow underbellies, yellow to orange legs, and red antennae with darkened tips. You may also see alternating dark and light bands around the edge, or margin, of the upper shield.
Nymphs can range from white to black with reddish markings. As they mature, they turn brown with black markings. White, barrel-shaped eggs are laid in clusters on leaves and twigs, and turn pink before hatching.
Consperse stink bug lifecycle
Like other native stink bugs, consperse overwinter in groundcover, emerging as soon as there are tender young weeds and other host plants to eat. Eggs can hatch in less than a week and nymphs can reach adulthood in a little over two months. Female consperse stink bugs lay an average of 225 eggs, but one researcher saw those numbers go as high as 640! This is why it’s so important to eliminate them as soon as you see them.
Consperse stink bug management
Consperse stink bugs eggs are often eaten by ants, earwigs, damsel bugs, and adult stink bugs. Except for predatory damsel bugs, most of us don’t want the rest of those critters in our gardens any more than necessary. There are commercially available pheromone lures that work to limit stink bug populations. Combined with sticky cards, these lures can be very effective. Keep in mind, however, that pheromone lures attract pests.
Your best control measure is to be on the lookout and stomp any you see. Yes, they do stink when threatened or squashed, but it’s a small price to pay to protect your crops.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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