Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Pentatomoidea ("Stink Bugs")

Commonly known as stink bugs or shield bugs. 

Stink bugs have glands in their thorax between the first and second pair of legs which produce a foul smelling liquid. This liquid is used defensively to deter potential predators and is sometimes released when the bugs are disturbed. It is very caustic and can burn foliage, cause skin irritation and if squirted into the eyes, a very painful burn AND as we are only too aware very, very smelly.

The baby and adolescent stink bug looks so cute and innocent, lovely green and orange respectively with that cute little spot on their back. The nymphs are similar to adults except smaller and without wings, but yes, they also have stink glands. The nymphs and adults have piercing mouthparts, which are mostly used to suck sap from plants, although some eat other insects. When they group in large numbers, they can become significant pests and decimate your citrus trees by sucking sap from new shoots and flower stems, causing shoots to wither, resulting in consequent crop losses. 

The mature stink bug is a huge black armour-plated nightmare version of the baby and adolescent stink bug.
Stink bugs usually appear on citrus in Spring & Summer, but now is the time to get ahead of the game with these annoying pests. They are commonly seen on citrus trees from winter onwards where a prolonged dry spell has caused water stress, ie the perfect Coffs Coast Winter/Spring weather.

Spraying regularly with Pest Oil or Eco-oil can prevent attack and will make it hard for eggs and nymphs to mature, thus breaking the reproduction cycle. You can also help prevent future attacks by making sure your citrus trees receive adequate water and are mulched to keep soil moisture consistent. Also check the soil pH is between 6 and 7, and that your trees have received adequate complete fertiliser as this will help with pest resistance.

If you are unfortunate enough to have an infestation of this pest one method of eradication is to arm yourself with protective clothing - full face protection, long sleeves and rubber gloves and pick the little stinkers off and drop them into a bucket of water with kerosene added - instant death!!

Another suggested method is vacuum them up - however I can't stand the stink in the cleaner!

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