Help! Orange bugs eating my peaches and tomatoes!

chantcd_com(8)June 1, 2007

I live near San Antonio, TX.

I got a good look at "them" (namely, the creatures devouring my peaches AND my tomatoes!)

They are not small like mites -- I have never seen them before, so I have a hard time describing them.

I have done PLENTY of googling, and couldn't find anything. I even looked at several "picture guides" to fruit/vegetable pests.

It is not the peach borer, and it is not a mite of any kind. That I am certain of.

Here is my description:

They are bright orange (with black parts as well) and they move rather slowly. They have 2 sections, which are more or less fused into one main piece -- though the head sits higher than the rest of their body. Their body is a little longer than the capital "I" on your keyboard. They have good-sized legs, and they like to stand on tomatoes and peaches to suck the contents, it seems. When they are on a fruit, they seem to "ride high" like a spider would -- not "low" like an ant, beetle, etc.

Their "butt" section seems to have several holes and/or bristles around the holes -- my imagination might be getting carried away, but I expect them to secrete something like nectar out those holes. This part is mostly my imagination though, as I really can't see too much detail.

Here's another important detail: I'm in south Texas, and I've never seen these insects before! And this is my 2nd year gardening here. (Though my peach tree was the first thing I planted -- Feb. 2005) Just to give you all the information, this is the first year I've had ANY peaches.

Anyhow, since I am trying out so many new vegetables (and fruits), it's hard to pinpoint what these pests were first attracted to (though I suspect the peaches). I grew tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, corn, and cantaloupe last summer. I grew cauliflower, cabbage, beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, spinach, and onions last fall/winter.

This year I am trying cilantro, dill, strawberries, blackberries, radishes, okra, and peanuts.

I neglected to plant Marigolds this year, though I know they repel some pests. But that is about the extent of my organic pest control knowledge! I have so much to learn about gardening, and organic gardening in particular. I want to be as natural as possible, but there is SO much to learn it seems.

If anyone could lead me in the right direction on identifying these pests I would much appreciate it.

Thank you,


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Ah... the problem pest you are seeing is most likely my most prolific nemesis ...the juvenile/ nymphs of the leaf footed stink bugs! (cringing)
Houston and south Texas #1 sucker (literally) of vegetables and fruit.
I have these little pests 3 or 4 times a year. Malathyon take care of it. I have tried soaps and organics... but they seem resistant to the organics.
I have included a link to the growing tomatoes forum which has a picture. and why too much information. Everyone has their own solution for these offenders.... What works best for you... you can decided. (but I would not suggest the can of Raid technique one person suggested)
I just get ride of them as their damage seems to become very evident at harvest time.
Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: June 2006 growing tomatoe forum

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 3:22AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Is it these guys?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:21AM
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    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 10:59AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I acually think they are kind of cute, although I know they do damage fruit. I guess it wouldn't be possible for the peach trees, but did anyone suggest row covers for the tomatoes and other veggies?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:15AM
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Those are the ones!!

Now what do I do?


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:16AM
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I should clarify: the picture above depicts EXACTLY the bugs I am talking about.

However, the tomato forum link only has one picture, and it depicts a different bug altogether, and one that I am not dealing with.


    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 11:21AM
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treelover(z8b SoCtrlTX)


I found these bugs on my tomatoes last year. There weren't too many of them and they moved slowly enough that I was able to pick them off by hand.

I did eventually realize that they will cause the tomatoes to have little white areas where they've been sucking--don't look nice, but they can be cut out.

Hand picking might not be a solution for you if you have a lot of tomato plants or large trees. A vacuum cleaner maybe...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 12:07PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Hand picking is good. Row covers work also! The material is available locally.

One thing to remember is to hand pollinate the flowers of tomatoes, squash, etc since the bees will not be able to get to them to do it.

Here is one article. Do a google search and you will find many more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Row covers ...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 1:16PM
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Besides the white spots.. here is Houston they tend to carry bateria and introduce it into the tomatos and their plants. Thus many rotting fruit just before harvest.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 6:12PM
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Any other suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 5:41PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

You have another option that is more time consuming but effective in DFW if you'd like to skip the malathyon.(I'm organic. NO pesticides except orange oil/molasses for the fire ants.)I planted my tomatoes,egg plant,peppers(bell and hot)and strawberries in the middle of TX native plants. Gregg's salvia,lyre leaf sage,wisteria(TX not asian),crossvine,frog's fruit,horse herb,cone flower etc.... The bed is mostly flowering TX native trees,perenials,reseeding annuals and ground cover. I had 85-90 percent yield on the tomatoes,90%yield on the strawberries,100% yield on the peppers and the eggplants went nutsos. The plants got so huge and had so much yield I am using a bigger area in my back yard. Not as many native plants around but I'm working on it! So far I've had 50% yield on my strawberries but they aren't in the thick of a native plant bed YET. I'll be my numbers get better as I get more natives. So far so good on my maters. They aren't ripe yet tho.

Here is a link that might be useful: soldier bugs

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 7:13PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Good deal PJ. So the link is to pictures of the good bugs that help take of the 'stinkers' it seems. They look a lot alike, but have been keeping each other in check for a long time.

Here is a link that might be useful: good bug

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 8:48PM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

You might look into Green Light's spinosad products. It is one of the broader spectrum OMRI listed organic pesticides I use at the garden center for several problems as they pop up. Soft on beneficials and quite good over a range of pest and not nearly as detrimental as Malathion is to the environment or bennies in the garden. There is no cure all spray and I like the native garden concept and the balancing act with bennies as a longer term answer. This could also be an odd year with all the rain so we have more of certain pest than others this year. Nature always works to create balance and man typically screws it up without knowing it til the damage is done.
Just a few thoughts and as always Good Luck and....
Happy Growing David

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 8:05AM
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I thinck they are a a sub-species to aphids.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 10:09PM
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I get these every year here in the Houston area and all this time I would try to describe them to people and no one knew what they were. They sit in clusters it seems and get on anything I grow. I put 7 dust which I know isn't organic but if I don't do it I don't get anything out of the garden. 7 dust gets rid of them. I wonder if the self rising flour someone suggested to get rid of worms on tomatoes would work for these creatures?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:10AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Stink bugs are hard to control with an insecticide since they fly around. As someone already stated it is not hard to pick them off with gloved hands, or knock them off, into a can with diluted orange oil. They don't move very fast unless they are flying. On another thread someone said that an organic product called Surround works great to prevent damage to fruits and veggies. It's available from Garden's Alive.

Sevin will kill them and kill a LOT of other things you may not want to kill -- including the soldier bugs that will control the very thing you are wanting to get rid of, and a lot of other 'bad' bugs, as well. Read about them on the links above.

I am truly amazed at how little-to-no bug damage there is in the garden since I stopped using toxic insecticides!

Happy gardening ...

Here is a link that might be useful: Sevin

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:37AM
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This won't help everyone, but chickens eat them like popcorn! As soon as the bugs arrive, I turn a few of the ladies loose in the garden to clean it up every day.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:35PM
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If you go to tomato forum, and look a page or so over a thread called how bagging is a thread I started showing how I am dealing with these:

helps me get on the vine ripe:

Here is a link that might be useful: In My Backyard

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 9:52PM
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Thats a great idea. I might try that on a few of my pomegranates. I had no bugs until right before they got ripe and those same ones ate them up. I didn't get a single fruit without damage off the whole tree.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 11:48PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

You can do this with just about any crop. Lovely tomatoe there!!! PJ

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 9:04PM
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rembetika(austin, TX)

I heard from some local organic farmers that they go out there with a hand vac every day. Stink bugs always start destroying my toms around July... so this year I'm gonna try the vac. Gotta be very careful though, to not suck up the good ones. Would love to have some hickens to help out! Maybe soon...
but can you teach a chicken the diff between a stink bug and a ladybug...??

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:02AM
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rembetika(austin, TX)

that's chickens not hickens

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:03AM
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weenerdogg(Zone 7b)

No suggestions but what are those guys called?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 5:48AM
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prairiepaintbrush(RedOak, TX z7/8)

I use Surround, which is Kaolin clay, mixed with water and sprayed on. Something was systematically eating my tomatoes this year until I sprayed with it and now they are just fine. I also use Soap Shield to prevent other fungusy diseases.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 10:36AM
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They are called leaf footed bugs, Stink Bugs etc...I hate them!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 9:38PM
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I guess we have them in North Carolina too. I saw the adults all over my yucca flowers earlier this year, but they weren't doing any visible damage so I left them alone. But I just found the nymphs on my tomatoes, so next year it's on!!!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 2:03PM
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Row covers didn't do much, spraying did less-I'm pretty sure they think insecticidal soap is a nice body wash and malathion is a food supplement, you almost have to drown them in it- they just fly off and come back, no way to bag all the tomatoes. Tried handpicking but toooo many bugs, they move pretty quick once they figure out what you're up to, and the adults fly off. Once they polished off the tomatoes they moved to flowers, other plants, vines, developing seed pods...
I hate the things! And we have the regular stink bugs too. They love the tomatoes also. I try and smash them whenever possible. Luckily with all the dust my nose is clogged & I can't smell them.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:44AM
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ykerzner(9 TX)

The picture you posted shows bugs that also resemble assassin bugs.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 5:03PM
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I have those leaf footed red/orange spider things on my plants too!! I found a herd of them eating on my bougainvillea. I read they really like developing fruits and veggies and are often mistaken for the assassin bug. Texas A&M website has a good bit of info on them. So far the only remedies I'm finding are handpicking and squishing or sevin dust.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2009 at 9:09PM
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They are called sowbugs....I like them.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 11:57PM
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I had them in droves on my tomato plants last year. Creeped me out so much I couldn't touch them to pick them off. Got a really long extension cord and sucked them up with my Shop Vac *shiver*

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:26PM
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I know this is an old post. I just found these on my tomatoes. Ick!!! I dropped a little orange oil in a solo cup of water and grabbed a pencil. I used the pencil to direct the critters into the water. They died. Didn't get 'em all, but its a start.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:18PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I keep a tub of killer soap water handy to drop critters into.. It is a mass grave for stinkbugs, harlequins, and leaf footed guys. The leaf footed guys are quick when they are old. I have a mature couple that are eluding me. So I expect to see a bunch of babies soon. stink bugs are easy to grab so are harlequins. Try some soapy water with dawn original soap on the babies. I hear that the parents are susceptible but the babies are more vulnerable. It is worth a try. My hand held vacuum cleaner was worthless for me. True, I got it from Goodwill.

The dawn soap spray mixture works almost IMMEDIATELY on coried bugs ( a relative to the stinkbugs) by getting into their breathing apparatus. They take about 15 seconds and then start twitching.

The net bags are good for the toms but these bugs also suck the plants and leave a poison that causes decline of the plant if it gets too much.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:14PM
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spicymeadow(6/Canyon, TX)

We just moved to San Antonio and I just found these on my mint! I put a ziplock over the infected area and just snipped it off. The kids are having a blast watching the orange bugs...
I try not to use insecticide... Hopefully they won't be too much of an issue to my herbs...

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 5:52PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Try spraying them with dawn soap. When they are young, they are vulnerable. Otherwise pick them off in the morning.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 7:22PM
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