Apparently stink bugs have invaded the east coast. Since 2009 stink bugs (which are an invasive species) have just exploded all across the northeast. We here on the farm are suffering immensely at the hands of these bugs. We didn’t know it was a whole epidemic thing until I read about it on Gawker (which is weird because since when does Gawker have any relevance to my farming life?). The bugs lay eggs on the leaves of plants and then when they hatch, swarm all over the plant. It’s freaky because the younger bugs are this grey/white/nothing color, so they look really evil. They’ve killed all our summer squash and almost all the cucumbers and melons. We are currently trying to protect the winter squash plants from them, but because we are committed to staying organic it’s super hard! There are already stink bugs on the plants, so the question is how to we kill bugs without using pesticides!? We’ve been using this natural remedy that works pretty well; it’s crushed garlic, hot pepper, a little bit of Dr. Brommer’s soap, and a bunch of water. Spray it on the plant and the bugs die within minutes. It’s mostly the soap that kills them, but theoretically the garlic and pepper will dissuade other bugs from coming. Our friend gave us some tobacco plants which, apparently, are also really great at keeping bugs away. We planted them right next to the winter squash and we are going to incorporate tobacco leaves into the spray next time we make more.
Here you can see all the stink bugs on this squash plant:
Here is a birds-eye view of the same plant. You can see it’s covered in bugs.
And here is what all the rest of the squash plants look like after a few days of the stink bugs at work:
A dire situation indeed. As long as we can protect the future squash from the current squash’s fate, though, and as long as the bugs stay away from our tomatoes and eggplants, it will all be ok.