On Crops: Corn, tomato, pepper, soybeans, apples, peaches and other tree fruits
Native to Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug arrived in the US in 2001, and has since spread to much of North America. It has recently been found in the UK. The green stink bug is a native American species that has spread to Australia.
Stink bugs give off a foul odor when crushed. Adults have shield-shaped backs that camouflage wings that enable them to fly short distances. Brown marmorated stink bugs have lines of white notches along their hindquarters that are not present in other species. They are best known for invading houses in the fall, where they linger through winter in drawers and bookshelves.
In the garden, stink bugs damage crops by making feeding wounds with their sucking mouthparts. They can feed through tender green cornshucks, and often damage peppers by feeding near the stem attachment, where the feeding wounds lead to wet rot. In tomatoes and tree fruits, wounds become hard knots.
Keep a close watch for stink bugs in the garden, which may be present some years and absent others. Smash the little black nymphs when you see them on sweet corn, and protect peppers with tulle row covers. Egg masses found on leaf undersides of corn, pepper or sunflowers that look like tiny barrels should be smashed.
Brown marmorated stink bugs swarm buildings in September, so make sure doors and window screens are secure. Collect invaders in jars of soapy water. At night, a pan of soapy water with a light next to it will attract and drown a few.
Piles of folded towels placed near entryways can help capture stink bugs that make it indoors. Currently-available pheromone traps are useful only in late summer when nymphs are active in orchard-size plantings.