Garden Word of the Day
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Dusky Stink Bugs
Dusky stink bugs (Euschistus tristimus) are native to North and Central America and they feed on plant juices. Cousin to leaf-footed bugs, these pests have piercing and sucking mouthparts.
Dusky stink bug damage
Dusky stink bugs can damage several crops, but they seem to prefer fruit trees. Their favorites include apples, cherries, peaches, pears, and plums. As they feed, they create catfacing and dimpling in fruit. Those dimples allow other pests and diseases access to the fruit and rot quickly sets in. Early feeding can cause trees to abort fruit altogether. Your citrus, grapes, peppers, and tomatoes are also vulnerable to dusky stink bug feeding.
Dusky stink bug identification
All stink bugs have shield-shaped bodies. From above, dusky stink bugs look identical to brown stink bugs (Euschistus servus). They also look a lot like dreaded invasive brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) and one-spotted stink bugs (E. variolarius). You can tell them apart, however. Dusky stink bugs are significantly smaller than brown marmorated stink bugs, and they have pointed shoulders (pronotum). Brown stink bugs have orange shoulder points and ‘duskies’ do not. Dusky stink bugs are smaller than most other stink bug species, ranging from ⅜” to ½” long and ¼” to ⅜ ” wide. They have long, slender antennae.
Dusky stink bugs tend to be dark brown to dark gray, depending on where they live and what they’ve been eating. And they have stripes on their sides. They get the tristimus part of their name from the three (sometimes four) spots found on their bellies, though they will struggle if you flip them over.
Eggs are cream-colored and barrel-shaped. Nymphs look somewhat like rust-colored, steampunked ladybugs with a dark head and a black stripe down the back.
Dusky stink bug lifecycle
Adult dusky stink bugs overwinter in leaf litter and plant debris. Eggs are laid in tight rows on the underside of leaves, netting, and elsewhere in spring and again in late summer. A single female stink bug can lay 500 eggs. In 40-60 days, those offspring are creating youngsters of their own.
Dusky stink bug management
If you squish or frighten a stink bug, you will learn how they got their name. They stink. And they are tough. Insecticides are only slightly effective against stink bugs and the timing must be perfect for them to work against immigrating adults. Handpicking is your best stink bug control. Drop them in a container of soapy water, or you can try feeding them to your chickens. Mine turned up their beaks most of the time. I guess stinkbugs taste as bad as they smell.
You can reduce stink bug habitat by eliminating weeds in the legume family. These pests fly, so it’s an ongoing battle. I recently had a stink bug fly up to my 7th floor balcony! Be on the lookout for stink bugs and stink bug eggs every spring and autumn.
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