What is this and is it harmful?

garret_87(Zone 6)September 28, 2013

I have seen many of these bugs in and around my garden. I have spotted a few on my lemon tree and cherry tree as well. I think they are called Forest Bugs, but am not sure. Any ideas?

Are they harmful to my plants?

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Difficult to see details. But if the antennae have white bands, it's most likely the brown marmorated stink bug. A serious pest of gardens and agriculture.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:08PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Yea it does look just like a stink bug. I have killed quite a few of them and haven't smelled any stink. I don't know if that matters. Today there were so many around the garden that two flew right into me.

Any idea what I should do? They have not been a problem like this in past years.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:15PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

in my z5 MI ... by this time of year.. i rely on the first freeze to dispose of bugs ....

you dont mention where you are ... and that probably matters ...

it would be akin to pollution.. to go spraying things.. that will be dead soon anyway ...


    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:20AM
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The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB for short) is, indeed, a non-native pest that poses significant risk in both agriculture and residential gardens/landscapes. It has been spreading rapidly throughout the U.S. since first found in Pennsylvania in 1998. (See distribution maps in slideshow at http://njaes.rutgers.edu/stinkbug/about.asp)

Although they have probably finished laying eggs for this season, they will overwinter in protected places - in nature, they'll seek out and aggregate in leaf litter and bark crevices, particularly under the peeling bark of large, dead trees; when they have a chance, they'll much prefer our homes, where they are a nuisance, but do no damage (and they do not reproduce indoors). Best to start sealing your home as well as possible now, before they begin entering.

As of the last I heard, there are no pesticides registered for use indoors that are effective. Furthermore, if you kill them indoors, other pests like carpet beetles may come to feed on their remains ... then turn to your home contents. I have recently seen some pesticides formulated for use outdoors, but according to Rutgers University,

"Presently, there are no viable strategies for control of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. The use of insecticides has very short-lived effect and there is evidence of resistance development. Even where insecticide is effective, repopulation occurs through migration from non-treated areas."

There is a lot of information available online, and it would be wise to familiarize yourself with the habits and life stages of this pest. A few good links are below, but you may want to look further. The various state universities have been doing a lot of research on this insect - look for ".edu" at the end of their web address instead of ".com"

Good photos of the various stages of life cycle:

Good info on the insect and preventing entry into your home:

Here in coastal NJ, I've seen the population fluctuate somewhat over the years, and this year it is particularly low - perhaps due to the autumn storms, or our cool & wet spring/early summer, or maybe other factors.

These insects aren't likely to go away, but research on control measures, including biological agents, is ongoing. In the meantime, if you feel like doing something, there is always capturing (as in a cup or topless water bottle) and tossing into a can of soapy water.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:51AM
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agardenstateof_mind is correct - brown marmorated stink bug. soapy water will coat the bug parts suffocating it. A one liter water water cut it half with the top half inverted into the bottom half and the bottom half having soapy water will also work. you can also freeze them in a zip lock bag for 2-3 days and then discard into the trash.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 2:23PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Wow thank you for all the info agardenstateof_mind! I just killed another 4 of these bugs when I stepped out to water the garden. From what you are saying and what I have read online - there is little I can do about these pests. I cannot srpray the plants as they feed from below the plants surface and a new wave of stink bugs will come along even if the first wave died.

I am not sure if this will work, but I'd like to share with you some information I read in "The Container Gardeners Bible" by J Harrison & M Smith. They said that you can use Seaweed Extract (Kelp) as a foliage spray to discourage sap-feeding insects. These stink bugs are sap feedig insects so I figured that I would give it a try. I have extra seaweed fertilizer anyways.

You mentioned capturing them in an open container. What sort of mixture would you suggest I use?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 3:03PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Sorry I posted the question bout the mixture before reading the comment from ipastus. Thank you for that tip. I will have to build a trap!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 3:10PM
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