Stink Bugs!!

Stink-Bug

Halyomorpha halys

Chances are you have had the luck of finding stink bugs in your garden or worse- your home this past summer. Hopefully, you haven’t squished any and if you have already done so, you have gained a full understanding on the reason behind their name. When you crush one of these 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch shield shaped insects, they release a foul and pungent odor that one does not forget about. Originally from Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) are believed to be brought to the United States around the 90’s in Pennsylvania. They were first spotted in Maryland in 2003, reproducing prolifically and destroying crops in their wake along the mid-Atlantic coast. An entomologist and senior extension associate for Cornell University’s NYS Integrative Pest Management Program in Babylon has expressed fear that within a few years, we “could be dealing with large numbers. They’ll eat anything- trees, seeds, holly berries- but they prefer peaches, apples, beans and developing ears of corn, so we’re seeing higher numbers in agricultural areas, including out east, near orchards and crop fields. They are generalist feeders, so we won’t see the true impact for a while.” Good news is stink bugs don’t bite, cause any structural damage, or pose any human health hazard. But like any other pest, they are seeking indoor shelter as of now (since the temperature is dropping.) Without you even knowing, you could be harboring the pests already! They may be under base boards, in window and door frames and other hiding spots without your knowledge. They will become noticeable once they come out to warm up on that first chilly night. The best line of defense for these bugs is a vacuum. Suck them up, and seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag, then dispose in the trash outside. Pesticides are not recommended, because who would want that in their house? Whether or not you have experienced these little critters, we recommend repairing holes in screens and sealing gaps around windows and doors. Remove window air-conditioners as soon as possible, and cover wall mounted units. You can even check the attic eaves during the day, so you can see where gaps are apparent. You should even check under the siding near the top of the foundation outside. Brush away any debris and check for gaps. Seal out any gaps and have a warm winter inside, with your family- not stink bugs. 

 

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

How to Bring in Plants Without Bugs for the End of the Season

We are planning to bring geraniums into the greenhouse to winter over, and to use for cuttings for next year’s plant giveaway.  If you have plants you would like to bring in, let Kathy know. Before you bring any plants into the greenhouse please try and be sure they are insect-free. Here are some steps you can follow to de-bug your plants:

  1. You can spray foliage with insecticidal soap if you see any signs of critters
  2. Then I would pop the plant out of the pot and inspect around the bottom and outside edge for any hitchhikers.
  3. Flick them off or scrape them off.
  4. Then I dunk the entire plant and pot in a spackle bucket full of water for about 15 minutes to convince all the other insects to make an escape.
  5. If you have a bug problem in the soil (ants or any other burrowing critters) you may have to take the plant down to bare roots get rid of the them. You can rinse the soil off the roots with a hose and repot in fresh soil.

Squash Lady Beetle

Attention! Our garden is under attack! While wandering through the garden one day, I noticed that the leaves and stems of our cucurbit plants were damaged. Upon closer inspection it looked as if they were being chewed on and were seriously damaging the growth of the plants. I noticed a small lady bug-like insect on one of the plants and also a small yellow spiny insect as well. I could not figure what they were because I have never seen them before.

After a little research, I found that they are a part of the Lady Beetle family, and are called Squash Lady Beetle’s (Epilachna borealis.) Unlike their siblings, the Squash Lady Beetle feeds on cucurbit crops instead of pests. They use their mouths to bore into stems to consume the liquids found inside. The larvae are a bright yellow color and have black spines on them. The larvae feed on the leaves of the plants. They show up in the mid-summer to reek havoc. In large enough numbers, this bug can seriously damage your summer crop. They are one of the largest Lady Beetles in Eastern North America where they originate. Keep a mindful eye on your summer cucurbits for these little insects. Below are pictures of the pests in our garden.

But how do I get rid of them? There are many options to remove the bugs from your garden. Some ways include rotating your crops each year, removing plant litter (because that is where they live in the winter,) scraping away the eggs from beneath the leaves, or making an organic insecticide. A recommendation from a professor at North Dakota State University is to use garlic, onions, one spicy pepper like jalapeno or habanero, water and a little dish soap in a sprayer and coat the leaves when you see the insects.

Mosquito Prevention and Control

It’s that time of the year again, yes the warm weather is great especially at night. But with warm weather and long summer days comes our number one flying enemy– mosquitos. Mosquitos can be harmless and just leave itchy bites, but can also carry West Nile Virus which can be deadly. There are many ways to handle the control and prevention of mosquitos by just a few simple steps.

1. Eliminate any standing water that shouldn’t be there (i.e. puddles, unused plastic pools, wet tires.)

2. Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week to eliminate larvae from growing.

3. Be careful when irrigating gardens and lawns, be cautious of using too much water.

4. If there are ditches near your home that contain stagnate water for longer than a week, report it to a Public Health office or Mosquito Control Center.

5. You can always purchase a trap like a bug zapper, to help with the control of adult mosquitos.

6. Reduce the number of spots where mosquitos can live such as weeds, tall grasses and vegetation. You can reduce these by cutting the lawn more often and putting down an herbicide for weeds or by pulling them out.

7. As a last resort you can always use pesticides, however the bugs can become immune to them after time. Also they can get into ground water and vegetation you grow which can be harmful.

8. Bug spray, Citronella candles, Oscillating fans, Tiki torches, amd even Listerine mouthwash can help keep them away when sitting outside as well.

You can read more about prevention of mosquitos and learn more information here.