There are about 5,000 different species of stink bugs. They range in color from brown to green with different patterns. But you know it's a stink bug by the shape of it's body. It's shaped like a shield. Stink bugs are native to Asia, and when they feel threatened, they release a stench with glands in the thorax.
(Harlequin Stink Bug. Photo: Princess Cole)
Stink bugs don't discriminate. They will attack just about any plant. You will find them on brassicas, especially if they have begun to bolt. They also like tomato plants, beans, pear trees, peach trees and more. They have mouth parts that look like needles, and they use that to poke small holes in the stems, leaves and even fruit, and suck the plants juices. While doing this, they also spread disease. You may notice your plants looking a bit spotty and discolored. Leaves can become wilted and fruit may not develop properly.
(Harlequin Stink Bug Eggs. Photo: Siri Lorece of Creative Arts Farm)
Stink bug nymphs are easy to get rid of because they don't have a hard shell like the adults. The eggs and nymphs can easily be sprayed with soapy water. For the adults, soapy water won't cut it unless you trap them in a cup, bottle or bowl and drown them. You can smother them with (diluted) neem oil, but it's not instant. Adding tee tree oil, neem oil and water in a spray bottle will get rid of them faster. But if you prefer not to spray them while they're on your plants, use the bowl and soapy water method instead. Another tool you can use is clothes pins.
(Newly hatched Harlequin Stink Bugs. Photo: Siri Lorece of Creative Arts Farm)
(Harlequin Stink Bug caught with clothespins. Photo: Princess Cole)
Clothes pins are great for catching them before your after you spray them so they don't get away. Getting rid of the adults every time you see one will cut down on the population for the current season and the next one.