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Stink bugs are small insects that are destructive to garden plants, including tomatoes, sorghum, millets, wheat, and sunflower. As of date, more than 4,500 species of these insects have been identified by entomologists. One of the peculiarities of this insect is that it contains glands in the thoracic region. When frightened or in case of danger signs, these bugs release a foul-smelling substance from these glands to drive away the predators. Hence, the name stink bugs has been assigned to these flying insects.

Identification

Possessing a protective shield that covers the body, stink or shield bugs are very easy to identify. Before you get busy with controlling their infestation on the tomatoes, first check for the signs of infestation to confirm their presence. Search for these insects underneath the leaves, on stems, and on fruits. The plants that have been infested by these foul-smelling insects will exhibit various signs, like discoloration of green tomatoes and formation of whitish or yellowish marks underneath the skin of ripe tomatoes. If such symptoms are present, most probably your plants are under attack by stink bugs and you need to implement pest control methods to get rid of them.

Control Measures

Some types of stink bugs are grouped under major garden pests in North America and many other parts of the world. So, don't be surprised if you come across these pests on tomato plants or other garden crops. They suck the plant sap and juices from fruits, thus affecting the quality of fruits. In order to save your garden from these destructive pests, act immediately without delay. Otherwise, infestation may spread to other plants in the vegetable garden, after which it will be very difficult to handle effectively.
  • Avoid Overcrowding:
    A good step for controlling stink bugs in garden is by identifying the factors that favor infestation and avoiding them. One such aspect is overcrowding of the plants, which leads to less exposure to sunlight. So, to reduce infestation of stink bugs on the tomatoes, trim weak branches and cross branching twigs. This, along with weed control, will increase air circulation and at the same time permit sunlight penetration.
  • Cultural Control:
    Another effective way of stink bug control is planting other crops near the tomato plants, which will help in luring these harmful pests away. Some best crops that distract these insects away from tomatoes are sorghum, millet, and sunflower. Most probably the bug will attack the trap plants and spare your tomatoes.
  • Manual Killing:
    No doubt stink bugs are small in size, but that does not mean that you can detect them. So, look for them properly and consider killing them. If you are allergic to their smell, wear protective hand gloves and use a pair of tweezers to remove them. Also, do not forget to inspect the underside of the leaves for eggs that are laid in groups.
  • Repelling Solution:
    Instead of using chemical-based pesticides, you can prepare homemade sprays from vegetable or essential oil. All you need to do is mix oil and water in the proportion 1:2. Fill this mixture in a spray bottle and apply on the infested plants. The strong-smelling oil repels insects from the leaves, stem, and fruits of tomato plants, thus helping in stink bugs control.
  • Homemade Sprays:
    Coming to effective ways of getting rid of stink bugs, spraying Kaolin mixed with water gives a protective coating to the plant's parts. Another method is to prepare a nicotine solution to control these pests. Just remember to soak the tomatoes for some time in water and rinse properly before using for consumption purpose.
For gardeners, it is quite disheartening to notice stink bug infestation on tomato plants. Whenever possible, avoid using insecticides and proceed with natural approaches to control these pests. By doing so, you can still enjoy chemical-free, organic tomatoes from your garden.