Stink Bugs: How To Identify And Control Them On Tomatoes

Stink bugs (sometimes called shield bugs) are pests that infest tomato plants and destroy fruit.

The stink bug is one of the more commonly recognized insects that invade tomato plants. They are sometimes called ‘shield bugs’ because they tend to shield themselves from predators with their bodies in a way reminiscent of medieval knights, and can be found all over North America during summer months feeding off tomatoes as well as other vegetables like okra.

How To Identify And Control Them On Tomatoes

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Stink bugs: how to identify and control them on tomatoes
There are more than 200 species in North America, all members of the pentatomidae insect family.

When threatened, these pests expel a repellent odor from their thoracic gland for which they are named.

In short, they stink.

What does the stink bug look like

Shape: shield-like
Color: most are variations of brown or green
Markings: different species can have yellow, red, or pink markings
Size: about ВЅ inch long

What do they do to plants

  • These pests insert their snouts underneath tomato skin. The enzyme they leave at the sting point turns that area of the tomato into liquid. The bug then drinks the liquid.
  • Sting points produce dark pinprick marks on the tomato.
  • Discolored areas appear on tomatoes where fluid is removed. They re often white, yellowish or light green. Damage can appear knot-like.

When do they do their work

Stinkbugs can be seen crawling all over your tomato plants at this time of year. You’re probably wondering what these pesky bugs are doing to your tomatoes, right? Well they don’t bite the fruit or chew on leaves — instead stink bugs will eat away from inside by piercing their mouthparts into a stem and sucking out sap.

Stinkbugs have been known for such damage ever since they were first discovered in 1996 when they attacked crops in Ohio!

How can you control stink bugs

The best control measure is prevention (see below). Take other steps to keep these pests away from your tomatoes.

Excess foliage in the garden and adjacent areas provide perfect breeding habitats for the bugs. Keep your garden plot well-weeded beginning early in the season before the population matures. You’ll to prevent them from taking up residence on your tomatoes. Continue to control weeds until harvest to keep bugs at bay.

What is the stink bug’s life cycle

Our insect friend follows a typical three-stage metamorphosis: egg, nymph, and adult.

  • Adults lay eggs in early spring (March and April) on plant stems and undersides of leaves.
  • When hatched, nymphs move through 5 developmental stages over the course of 4-5 weeks.
  • Adults overwinter in garden debris and leaves, then lay eggs for the next cycle.

How can you prevent them from infesting your tomato patch next season

  • Keep weeds down. Stink bugs hide in dense foliage. By removing as many weeds and unnecessary garden foliage as possible during the growing season, you can take away places for them to live and hide.
  • Remove debris. After your last harvest, destroy weeds that could become an overwintering habitat for adult bugs. Remove and destroy affected plants at the end of the season.
  • Space plants. When setting out seedlings in the garden next spring, allow extra space in between tomato plants. Space gives extra circulation and provides fewer places for bugs to hide and grow.

What else is important to know about these pests

  • Stink bugs dislike heat and migrate from south to north when temperatures rise.
  • However, longer growing seasons in the south allow them to reproduce more frequently. That means infestations are longer in warmer regions. If winter is mild, adult bugs will continue to be active.
  • Bugs are attracted to light. They will hover around outdoor lights and even more indoors during summer evenings.

How to Get Rid of Bugs on My Tomato Plants

The leaves on your tomato plants are mysteriously turning yellow or disappearing one by one? There is a good chance you have an infestation of pests. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of bugs and once you know a few things to do (and not), they may be harder than they seem!

Use garden shears to cut the lower branches off from under the plant’s canopy so that pesky insects can’t sneak in from below. Prune out any withered vines near ground level as well — this will help discourage them further from climbing up into the foliage where it gets much more difficult for us humans with our puny hands and tools like gardening gloves, forks, tarps etc., but evidently still possible nonetheless because I’m hearing these

Remove larger bugs by hand. Many bugs such as hornworms, stink bugs or fruit worms can be taken from the plant by hand. Wear gloves for protection and drop troublesome bugs into a container of warm soapy water to dispose of them.

Spray with a soap and oil mixture. If removing bugs by hand is not for you, try spraying them with soapy water mixed with vegetable oil. Mix 2 tsp mild dish soap to 1 tbsp of canola or olive oils in your own spray bottle, then top it off halfway up the container’s opening (about half an inch) from the bottom of that same bottle full of tap water — now we’re ready!

Spray these pests until they are saturated enough to be killed through suffocation on contact if necessary which means this mix will work as well as any bug bomb ever could without all those toxins floating around your home afterwards too; but use caution when using wet sprays because dry-cleaning chemicals often react unfavorably here

Sprinkle cornmeal around the base of the tomato plants for controlling hornworms. Although hornworms will readily eat cornmeal, their digestive systems cannot handle it and the cornmeal will kill them.

If you are not looking to destroy your garden completely, then there is a natural and organic way of keeping the pests at bay. Try using plants that have been found to repel insects near tomato plants like onions or garlic in order to keep them away from other crops nearby.

If this does not work for you after trying it multiple times, try combining with another method such as spraying herbicides because they do more than just kill bugs; they also eliminate their habitats which can help reduce future infestations if done correctly

If you would rather live symbiotically with nature instead of going all out chemical warfare on insect invaders, start by having certain types of plant foliage around tomatoes so that these may be repelled before anything else happens further down the


Learn About Leaf-Footed Bug Damage To Tomatoes

The humble stink bug and leaf-footed bugs may not have the most aesthetically pleasing names, but they are an integral part of your tomatoes’ life cycle. These insects feed on leaves and stems which can be detrimental to a tomato plant’s health in large numbers. However, what is more alarming for gardeners is that these pests prey on young fruit with their needle-like mouthparts causing it to rot before ripening into its juicy goodness!

Expert opinion: The key step towards eradicating this problem starts by identifying them — no need to panic if you see one or two as there might only ever be up 20 at any given time feeding around plants; however if you’re seeing swarms (upwards of 50) then take action!

How Do Stink Bugs Damage Tomatoes

The severity of leaf-footed bug damage to tomatoes depends on the size of the tomato when the insect attacks. When the bugs feed on tiny, new tomatoes, the tomato will likely never mature and develop. You may find that little tomatoes drop off the vine. When they feed on medium-sized tomatoes, they cause scars and depressions in the fruit. When the insects feed on large, nearly mature fruit, they cause minimal damage, and the fruit is often good enough to eat, though you may notice discoloration.

Stink bug damage to tomato plants may also be a concern. Although the damage on foliage and stems may look minimal, the insects can carry viruses that they spread to the plants. They also leave excrement on both foliage and fruit.

Stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs have long mouthparts they use to pierce tomato leaves, stems and fruit. The length of the structure depends on the size of the insect. After penetrating tomato plants and fruit, the insects suck out the juices. If they encounter seeds, they inject digestive enzymes to dissolve them.

The piercing mouthpart may carry a yeast infection that causes fruit discoloration. The likelihood of yeast infection increases during wet weather. The damage is only cosmetic, and it won’t make you sick if you eat it.

How to Get Rid of Leaf-Footed Bugs and Stink Bugs on Tomatoes

Keep the garden weed and debris free to eliminate hiding places and overwintering locations. Begin handpicking the insects early in the growing season. They are easy to pick off when they are young because they congregate in central locations. Look carefully under leaves and among fruit clusters. Knock them into a jar of soapy water or use a small, hand-held vacuum to remove them from the plants.

They have quite a few natural enemies, including birds, spiders and insects. The broad spectrum insecticides that kill the target insects also kill their natural enemies as well as bees and other pollinators. You can usually keep them under control by handpicking alone, but it you find that they continue to damage your crop, spray young nymphs with insecticidal soap or neem spray. These sprays won’t kill adults.

Pests on Tomato Plants – How to Control

As a tomato gardener, you will no doubt encounter various types of common garden pests. Creepy critters like cutworms, flea beetles and grasshoppers are all too eager to feast on your beautiful plants. Three of the most encountered in gardens with tomatoes include aphids, stink bugs and tomato fruit worms- each one has its own unique way that it may harm them so knowing about what is happening can help fight back more effectively!

Aphids: These little creatures feed off sap from plant leaves which causes yellowing as well as eventual death for those infested individuals; they also secrete honeydew by sucking out juice form the leafs that then attracts ants – another type of pest we don’t want to have


Pests on Tomato Plants


These tiny green or black insects can either be winged or wingless and like to hang out in clusters on the bottom side of tomato leaves or tomato stems. They suck moisture and nutrients out of your tomatoes, causing curled and yellowed leaves and stunted plants.

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are both pesky and obnoxious. They get their name because they release a foul odor if threatened or squished, but stink bug damage isn’t limited to making your tomatoes smell bad: the pests suck on sap from fruit plants like your juicy melons, cucumbers, lettuce greens and more! Young nymphs look just as disgusting as adults with an easily identifiable shield-shaped body covered in different colors ranging black (with markings), brown (without marks) or green.

When a stink bug attacks your tomato, it is no different than when an adult would attack. The bugs take things away from the plant and cause damage that can lead to poorly formed fruit on the vine.

Tomato Fruit Worms

The corn earworm is one of the most common tomato pests you will find. These pink, green or brown insects with light striping can grow to nearly 2 inches long and they are actually moth larvae that bore into tomatoes fruit to feed on their juicy flesh inside. The moths lay eggs close by towards stems holding green fruits which hatch in approximately 1 week’s time — giving your garden a worm infestation problem!

How To Get Rid of Bugs on Tomato Plants Naturally

  1. Hand picking – throw on a pair of gardening gloves and fill a large can with warm, soapy water. Then simply pluck the little “darlings” off your plants and drop them into the can.
  2. Weeding – if you have planted your tomatoes directly into the ground, keep the areas around your plants free from weeds and other garden debris as this eliminates a favorite habitat and hiding place for many garden pests.
  3. Organic insecticidal soap – mix the soap with water to create a 2 to 3% solution and apply directly to common tomato pests for best results.
  4. Neem oil – this organic, plant-based oil is very effective against aphids, stink bugs and tomato fruit worms. You can find it in many garden centers or order it online. Apply according to package directions for best results.
  5. Beneficial insects – introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, praying mantis, and lacewings (all available for order online) to your garden and let them do what they do best.


Effective Measures to Control Stink Bugs on Tomatoes

Stink bugs on tomatoes require immediate control measures, as they cause damage to both young and ripe fruits. Here is a discussion about the remedies to get rid of these insects from your vegetable garden.

Stink bugs on tomatoes require immediate control measures, as they cause damage to both young and ripe fruits. Here is a discussion about the remedies to get rid of these insects from your vegetable garden.

Small, flying insects that are known for their foul-smelling defense mechanism thrive in gardens and crops alike. Over 4500 stink bugs have been identified by entomologists who use the glands on these little creatures to release a substance when they feel threatened or frightened, driving away predators with its smell. The name «stink bug» has stuck as it is one of the many peculiarities about this small insect’s anatomy, but not all stinks bugs produce such an unpleasant odor — some even emit pleasant smelling odors!


Shield bugs are easy to identify. They have a shield that covers their body and they emit an odor that you can’t miss, but before getting busy with controlling them on your plants, be sure to check for signs of infestation first! Search the plant by looking underneath leaves, in stems or fruits where these creatures might lurk. With discoloration of green tomatoes or yellowish spots on ripe ones as indicators this foul smelling bug is present — don’t wait too long because depending how bad it gets could affect its growth cycle

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

Stink bugs are a major garden pest in North America and other parts of the world. They suck plant sap from fruits, which can affect their quality. Without acting immediately to save your garden from these destructive pests, infestation may spread to all neighboring plants as well as crops like tomatoes or zucchinis you planted nearby for fresh food on hand!

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 them feeding off tomato plants or any type of crop that’s being grown by someone who really cares about what they’re doing with it (and hopefully those would-be friends care enough not share).

  • 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 anyone who gardens, dealing with a stinkbug problem feels like one more unwanted chore added onto their list of worries about what might happen next year when harvesting season comes around again (if there’s anything left for them at all).

How to Keep Bugs Away From Tomato Plants

There are many ways that bugs can be deterred from attacking your crops with a little work on the part of the gardener such as keeping debris off fruits so pests do not find them easily accessible; pruning plant foliage which makes it harder for pest eggs laying around in nearby bushes or trees to reach; using beneficial insects that will prey upon other insect species like ladybugs who devour aphids by sucking out their body fluids then lay their own eggs in what remains when there’s no more juice left inside those pesky suckers!

You can protect your tomato plants from insect infestation by providing enough water, adding aged compost to the soil and harvesting as soon as possible.

A creative and interesting way to deter pesky critters from eating up your tomato plants is by concocting a homemade insect repellent. Boil two heads of garlic in one quart of water, let it cool down before pouring into a spray bottle with some liquid dish soap; this mixture will both suffocate any insects while also acting as an effective rabbit or deer deterrent.

Plant insect-repelling herbs around your tomato plant. Cornell University recommends strong-smelling vegetation such as parsley, onions, dill and chives. For example, basil shrubs planted near your tomato plants help to drive away the tomato hornworm, a common tomato pest. Many of these herbs also attract beneficial insects that attack insect pests.

One popular method of deterring pests from eating your tomatoes is by dusting the plant’s foliage with food-grade diatomaceous earth. This all natural powder doesn’t harm your plants but can kill many types of bugs, too! When it comes to pest control for tomato plants, you get what you pay for so if deterrence efforts don’t work and a bug invasion occurs then make sure that product used contains neem oil as this will defend against any insect invaders.

Home-made Insect Repellent for Tomato Plants

You can make your own bug spray by combining one tablespoon of canola oil, one quart of water and a few drops of liquid soap. Spray the solution on the leaves and underside of leaves where insects often hide. The oil will smother insects and you will have to reapply this solution after heavy rains.

Natural insect repellents

If you don’t have patience with natural insect repellents and you can try one of these methods:

  • An insect trap – you can buy or make home-made insect traps, and stake them to your tomato plants.
  • An electric bug zapper will help control any bug infestation on your tomato plants by luring bugs into it and killing them with electricity.
  • A non-organic bug spray – although this should be your last resort.

Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms are those huge and green tomato worms that will eat all your tomatoes if you don’t get rid of them quick! But never fear, these 5 ways to kill the pesky pest can help save your plants. These methods work so quickly, they’ll have no chance at coming back- guaranteed!

#1. Organic Ways

If you’re looking to kill tomato hornworms without harming other beneficial insects, go the organic way! Consider using Monterey BT spray, or BT which is short for Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki, which is a naturally occurring bacteria that will poison all manner of caterpillars, including tomato hornworm, cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, cutworms, and many other types of larvae.

Another organic thing you can use is Garden Dust, which is a powdered form of the BT spray. Simply sprinkle the dust on the tomato plants, and it will work just as well as the spray!

Another option would be to use pyrethrin sprays. There are many variations of these sprays on the market, such as PyGanic, which work very well.

#2. Environmental Control

One of the best and most environmentally-friendly ways to get rid of tomato hornworms is to use the environment against them! These will usually be predatory wasps that will lay their eggs inside or on top of the hornworm, and once the larvae hatch, they will devour the hornworm.

Lacewings and ladybugs are also helpful and killing off hornworms, because they will eat the eggs of the hornworms, although you’ll still have to pick off any grown hornworms.

Companion planting is also a great way to ward off hornworms. Planting basil near your tomatoes will improve their flavor but also keep hornworms away. Planting marigolds will attract predatory wasps, which will then kill off the hornworms.

#3. Preventing Hornworms

One of the best ways to get rid of hornworms, is to prevent them from being there in the first place. To do that, use floating row covers over your plants.

Tilling your garden at the end of the harvest season can also help reduce hornworm population.

So now that you know how to get rid of tomato hornworms, it’s time to start planting tomatoes!

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Aphids

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It’s easy to get rid of aphids without using dangerous chemicals that might hurt your plants, pets, or kids. Here are the 8 best natural ways to get rid of aphids.

You have been working on your garden for all of spring, tending to every seedling and planting the most beautiful vegetables you can find. You had hoped that this summer would be fruitful but as soon as you stepped outside with a watermelon in hand, it was clear something wasn t right: The tomatoes are withered; not one zucchini is left standing upright — just white flowers scattered against brown earth where they once grew so proudly.

You walk around the yard searching frantically for an answer when suddenly- there! In front of your eyes stands a small bug chomping off chunks from what used to be a vibrant green leafy vine bearing tons of juicy melons ripe enough to eat..

Why are aphids bad?

Aphids are bad for the garden because all of those little critters will bite your plants into oblivion. It truly is death by a thousand cuts. Your flowers or vegetables can be deformed or killed by an aphid infestation. Aphids can also transmit disease viruses between plants.

How do I get rid of aphids?

Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience battling aphids in the garden. But I have good news–it’s easy to get rid of aphids without using dangerous chemicals that might hurt your plants, pets, or kids.


In the morning, spray water from a hose to dislodge and wash off aphids. This will prevent fungus buildup on your plants by evening time.

The underside of leaves are sprayed with water in order to get rid of pesky pests that feast upon them throughout the day.


Dish Soap

Put ВЅ teaspoon dish soap into a 32 oz spray bottle with water. Spray the affected areas and rinse off. This is a good tactic if the aphids are on a single plant (I use this on my rose bush).


Buy and release ladybugs. Yes, you really can buy ladybugs for your garden! Ladybugs love to eat aphids, the kids will have a blast releasing them, and the ladybugs will be thrilled at having an all-you-can-eat aphid buffet.

More Gardening Tips You’ll Love

Garlic Spray

Garlic insecticide spray is a great natural product that doesn t kill any bugs, but just makes the plants so stinky bad bugs don’t want to hang out or lay eggs there. To make garlic pesticide spray, crush a full head of garlic and steep it in 2 cups hot water overnight before straining out the pieces. Fill up your bottle with 1 Tablespoon dish soap and 1 Tablespoon hot pepper for an easy way to store it while avoiding spoilage from bacteria growth (labeled). Spray on top as well as under-sides when you notice pests like aphids are eating your plant leaves!


Neem Oil

Neem oil is made from the azadirachta indica tree, and has been used for soaps, organic cosmetics, pest control in gardens. It’s insecticidal as well as antifungal if applied properly with enough safety precautions taken into account. The most common use of neem oil is a soil drench where it will be absorbed by plants through their root system which also makes this product very safe to utilize when done right!

Neem oil will keep the aphids from feeding, prevents larvae from maturing, and/or suffocates the aphids on the plant. Pretty thorough, yes?

Insecticidal Soap

This is a safe, inexpensive, virtually nontoxic way to control aphids and it can be used right up until harvest. Insecticidal soap suffocates the aphids in addition to washing off honeydew that they excrete. You should dilute insecticidal soap according to label directions before spraying on plants’ tops and undersides of leaves for best results. Spray every 5-7 days or when you notice new colonies forming around your garden; avoid using dish/laundry detergent as these are too harsh!



Encourage bug-eating birds to visit your garden by installing a birdhouse and small shrubs near the ground. Some of their favorite foods are also found in these places, such as berries or bugs they can eat for food.

Companion/Distraction Planting

The aphids are a problem in the vegetable garden, but with these two methods you’ll find them much less of an issue! You can use one or both to distract and deter them from your delicious veggies. With distraction planting, plant flowers that attract aphids (dahlias) next to where they’re trying to destroy your vegetables- it’s like telling ’em «hey over here!» It takes some time for this method as well so be patient and don’t give up on anything too soon. The other great option is using natural predators such as ladybugs who eat pesky bugs themselves without having any problems with human intervention at all.



It is a truth of gardening that pests will always exist in your garden. But, armed with the right know-how and tools to protect what you’ve worked so hard for, this doesn’t have to be such an overwhelming prospect!


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