Distortion and dimpling of fruit is a signature symptom of a stinkbug infestation. These shield-shaped green, brown, or bluish-gray bugs and their identical but smaller nymphs, suck plant juices from leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds of many crops including okra, squash, beans and tomatoes. Stinkbugs give off an unpleasant odor when crushed. Adults overwinter in garden debris, nearby weedy areas, and sometimes in cracks and crevices in buildings.
The bugs emerge in spring to lay their eggs on both wild and cultivated plants. Populations peak in late summer. They are found throughout North America, but are more common in southern states.
Prevention and Control
- Keep weedy areas mowed to reduce overwintering and egg-laying sites.
- In summer, look for the stinkbug's barrel-shaped white eggs and crush them before they hatch. Handpick adults and nymphs, but wear gloves to avoid the unpleasant smell.
- Encourage native parasitic flies and wasps that prey on stinkbugs.
- Clean up garden debris at the end of the season.
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