Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Battling the stink bug

Hmm, the stink bug - horrible creature. A tribe of stink bugs can destroy your citrus crop pretty quickly if left alone to do its evil work!

This post may be of limited interest to those who don't have to suffer this beast as the stink bug is an Australian native pest of the warmer climes only. Lucky are those that don't have to endure it.

 It is otherwise known as the bronze orange bug, the name 'stink bug' suits it well because you can normally smell them before you can see them.

Native finger lime  'Collette' in front of one of my espaliered limes
Before Europeans brought their citrus plants to Australia, the stink bug fed on the native Finger lime.  ( Oh all the poor little Collettes!).

The baby and adolescent stink bug looks so cute and innocent, lovely green and orange respectively with that cute little spot on their back. But they suck the citrus sap from the tender tops of your citrus plants, wilt the growing tips and cause any newly forming fruit to shrivel, turn black and fall off.

Last year I lost a whole crop of Tahitian Limes to the stink bug.  In early October I had started my stink bug surveillance. My method that time was to knock them off the tree and stomp on them or cut them in half with my secateurs.  Foolishly, I set about doing this with no protection at all.  Result?  The stink bug's defence is to spray highly concentrated citric acid and the beast sprayed me in the eye.

If I said this was extremely painful it would be an understatement. Thankfully I had some water at hand and bathed my eye and headed to the optomopterist  then next day, where he declared in a sombre tone, "you are very lucky".

I then headed overseas for work armed with eye antibiotics and returned to find my lime trees totally devastated.  All new stems were black and drooping and only a few tiny fruit were left on the trees.

You just cannot let stink bugs lie, you have to do something about them.Yesterday, I needed to go into battle with something more than a pair of secateurs.

This may seem like overkill, but believe me it isn't. Chastened by last year's burnt eye ball, I knew I needed better protection. So I borrowed my lad's chainsaw mask, got a dish washing glove from the kitchen and made me deadly brew -  a mix of kerosene and water in a bucket. Wearing long sleeves I went into battle picking off the bugs one by one putting them into my mix.  It killed them instantly.

I fished them out and re-bottled the mix ready for my next attack. I will have to do this a few times to get them all.  My aim will be to get the young ones in their cute orange and green form before they turn into the huge black armour plated nightmare version. View if you have the stomach.  A warning -  this link takes you to scenes of insect sexual activity and my be offensive to some viewers.

My lovely lad said on seeing these photos, " it's hard to love some of gods creatures isn't it!"


  1. Oh those pictures give me the creeps! I found some evidence this morning of stink bug damage on the new growth of my dwarf eureka, but no sign of the bug itself. Will need to stay vigilant.

  2. Errk! Stink bugs! I remember them from when I was a kid but I can't recall coming across them in more recent years. Maybe they prefer the warmth? Good, let's keep it that way (though I'm sorry you have to endure them)! I have more than enough bugs of my own, anyway.

    1. I dont think they turn up in Victoria. I have never seen them there anyway and had no such troubles when I lived in Melbourne. There are advantages in being in slightly cooler areas. No stink bugs, no fruit fly. Luck you!

  3. Hmm that reminds me I need to be on the look out for my clients. Between them, citrus leaf minor and scale there is quite the battle to wage!

    1. Yes, you have your work cut out fore you. And then there is the fruit fly. Good luck , armour up and eradicate.

  4. How do you find the eggs before they hatch?



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