Beware – these pesky little critters can destroy not only your tomatoes, but your whole garden! Once green shield bugs are present, it is a daily job to deal with them.
This is my last blog in the Tomato Success Series – I hope you’ve enjoyed and found it useful! So let’s conclude by looking at this frustrating tomato pest and how we can control it for the sake of your tomato harvest this summer!
To prevent Green shield bugs, the time is ripe now to be checking under your leaves for egg clusters. Green shield bugs, also called stink bugs, lay around 14 eggs which are generally a yellowy tan colour, sometimes paler.
What are green shield bugs / stink bugs?
Let’s first start by looking at the life cycle of these bugs.
When the Nymphs first hatch, they don’t really eat or have wings. They evolve in their growing process by shedding their skin. They change colour from black, to black and green, and so on until they become an adult. It is not until just before they become an adult that their wings form, then the trouble really starts!
What problems do green shield and stink bugs present in my garden?
These bugs pierce and suck your vegetables or plants to feed and, unfortunately, they seem to do it right before you’re ready to harvest. This is why, when you pick a tomato that has been attacked by these pests it will be dry inside, and usually with a white ring on the inside close to the skin. Basically they suck the goodness out of your plants.
I remember years back when shield bugs only attacked tomatoes – nowadays they are not fussy at all and particularly like to hide in the bean bush, sucking away out of sight doing damage unseen…
Why are green shield and stink bugs hard to manage?
These damaging pests can overwinter as adults, and they will hide in long uncut grass and shrubs over the cold months until the sun is up for laying their eggs. They prefer to breed on plants that have fruit or seed heads and are particularly fond of berry leaves. They produce several generations in one year and can become prolific very quickly.
Now is the time they start to lay their eggs and each female can lay eggs over an 8 week period. This is crafty, as it is just in time for when your fruit or vegetables are coming ready to harvest. This means that one plant can have all stages of bug development on it at once, from eggs through to adults.
How can I control green shield and stink bugs organically?
Adults don’t stop laying until around the end of summer, when the day light gets less and the air gets cooler. Imagine how many babies they will have had by then!
It is crucial to try to keep on top of them now. The very best advice I can give, after decades of organic gardening experience, is how very important it is in any garden to take the time to really study your plants; not only at a glance, but to get right in there looking under leaves, down the stem and into the soil.
Observation is a huge part of gardening… When you observe these bugs on your plants, or signs that these pests have been present, you know you need to act quickly if you want to keep any of your own crop for yourself.
If you do find these dreaded insects on your crops, you can manage them by smothering with EnSpray99 – this is an effective and organic method to manage an infestation.
Another organic recipe I’ve tried and found to be successful is to collect the bugs; crush them and put them in water to spray on the plants. I’ll be sharing my organic recipe for this next week in my newsletter as a free printable. Make sure you’re signed up!
Some of the best preventative methods I have found is to plant Calendula officinalis on the periphery of the garden, which acts as a host and a sacrificial plant for shield bugs. I also recommend planting Alyssum, Borage and lavender to attract other beneficial insects that will eat shield bugs.
I wish you luck with these bugs and encourage you to share with me any tips, tricks or observations you may have had success with in the past.