Red-shouldered stink bugs may invade your home as well as your garden.
Red-shouldered stink bugs (Thyanta custator) use their piercing mouthparts to suck the juices from your almonds, apples, beans, corn, peaches, pears, pistachios, tomatoes, and wheat. Their feeding can cause cat-facing and corky fruit, as well as provide points of entry for other pests and diseases. And, of course, they poop on those crops, too.
Red-shouldered stink bug identification
Adult red-shouldered stink bugs are primarily green but can be brown, with a pinkish edge along the scutellum (just behind the head). That pink edge can be very dark and noticeable, barely present, or missing entirely. They have long antennae (for a stink bug) and, if you flip them over, you will see some of them have black spots on the abdomen.
Nymphs are brownish, with tribal-like designs on their backs. Adults and nymphs average 1/3” in length. Eggs are grey, round to barrel-shaped, and flat on top.
Red-shouldered stink bug lifecycle
Tiny eggs are generally laid in clusters on plant stems and the underside of leaves. When those eggs hatch, nymphs start feeding on developing seeds and young leaves, buds, and flowers. As they mature, their diet expands to include all those crops mentioned earlier. Then, as temperatures begin to drop, they start looking for a place to overwinter. That winter wonderland may be in mulch, plant debris, or your living room.
Similar to ladybugs, red-shouldered stink bugs are notorious for invading homes in autumn. And don’t try vacuuming them up or your vacuum will stink. Instead, invert a plastic bag over your hand, pick those little suckers up, and drop them into a container of soapy water. The same method works outside in the garden, as well.
Stink bugs can smell pretty bad. Even my hens turn up their beaks when one crawls by, so it’s up to you!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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