Whether you have a home garden, a field, or an orchard, there’s a big chance that your plants will be infested with stink bugs. These insects that came from Asia are hard to deal with once it starts to infest your plants. The best solution for this problem is to have some strategies to prevent it. One of the strategies you can try is to attract non-insect predators like birds. But you may ask, do birds eat stink bugs? If so, what types of birds eat them?
Birds eat stink bugs but not all types of birds follow the same diet. Some would feast on grasshoppers, beetles, and aphids but not with stink bugs. Cardinals love stink bugs. Bluebirds and wrens also include stink bugs in their diet.
However, take note that stink bugs live in an ecosystem. It’s not enough that you only focus on the birds that can help you get rid of the bugs in your garden. You must also consider the other factors to avoid such bugs. In this post, I’ll share with you everything about stink bugs and how to avoid them in your house and plants.
What type of birds eat stink bugs?
There are three bird species that eat stink bugs. It includes cardinals, bluebirds, and wrens. Not all birds love to eat stink bugs because of their disagreeable taste. You may see some birds that try stink bugs but they’ll just spit it out once they tasted the not-so-favorable flavor.
The taste of such bugs comes from the foul odor that the bugs spray. It’s released when they feel that they are in danger. It’s a defense mechanism to their predator. The chemical compound they release can cause burning sensation and allergy so you don’t want the bugs to crawl on your skin. Although it doesn’t bite, it’s not a good idea to have the bugs around.
A non-migratory cardinal bird, particularly pyrrhuloxia, finds foods on bristlegrass, pigweed, dove weed, and sandbur. These birds eat cactus fruit and insects as well. The insects included in its diet include cicadas, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and stink bugs.
Carolina Wrens eat overwintering stink bugs. It’s a good catch for the wrens because stink bugs overwinter in groups. It means that the wrens just need to find one stink bug to find the rest. Because wrens love to search for insects in cavities and crevices, it’s easy for them to locate stink bugs wherever they are.
Wrens also feed their hatchlings with stink bugs. Initially, they feed the hatchlings with caterpillars and some soft crawlers, then after a couple of weeks, a new diet is introduced to the hatchlings. They eat crunchier crawlers such as beetles and grasshoppers. This is also the time when the hatchlings can eat the stink bugs.
Similar to the wrens, bluebirds have different diets during the nestling stage and the adult stage. During the nestling stage, bluebirds eat wasps, bees, aphids, scales, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and spiders. When the birds reach the adult stage, they primarily eat beetles and caterpillars. When a stink bug is available, it also includes the insect on their diet.
Blackbirds eat stink bugs. However, if you plan to put the birds in the ecosystem where stink bugs infest, you can’t see any changes in the stink bug population. According to a study conducted by BioOne Complete, there was no reduction in the population of stink bugs. There was no difference as well between the exclosure group and the control group on the damage of the stink bugs to the rice crop where blackbirds exist. Yet, if there are not many stink bugs in your garden, blackbirds may help.
What is the natural predator of stink bugs?
The natural predator of stink bugs, particularly the brown marmorated stink bugs, include parasitic flies, bats, spiders, assassin bugs, wasp, and predatory stink bugs. To make it more technically correct, stink bug attackers come into two categories, which include parasitoid and predator.
The two categories have different ways of attacking the stink bugs. Parasitoids kill a stink bug by living in or on the host, in this case, it’s the stink bug. In the case of the parasitoid wasp, it lays eggs in the host then feeds inside the host’s eggs. This process halts the development of the host’s egg, which later on kills the host. On the other hand, the predator, like the birds mentioned earlier, kills and consumes their prey by chewing or sucking.
Both attackers are effective in killing the stink bugs. However, it’s considered that parasitoids have a higher chance of success compared to predators. Because parasitoids can feed inside the host’s eggs, it has a better chance of killing all of the eggs.
There are several wasps in the US but they can’t kill the Asian stink bugs or the brown marmorated stink bugs. These stink bugs are native to Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. They first appeared in Pennsylvania in 1996 and farmers have no idea how to control it.
The discovery of the wasp that kills the Asian stink bugs was through the study conducted by a team from Rutgers NJAES Pest Management. The team flew to Asia to find out the answer and they discovered that the samurai wasp was the right species. Yet before they release it from the lab, the same species was discovered in Maryland parasitizing the stink bugs.
When it comes to stink bugs at home, your best friend is the spider. However, it’s important to take note that a spider can’t suppress the entire population of stink bugs. But it can help in the reduction of bugs. A spider’s web can provide a 50% chance of trapping the stink bugs. It also means that the consumption rate is also 50%. The spider family that eats stink bugs includes Agelenidae, Pholcidae, and Theridiidae.
What chemical will kill stink bugs?
Natural predators and parasitoids like birds, wasps, and spiders are considered to be an effective way of killing stink bugs. However, if you have a hard time attracting the birds or you don’t have the wasp species around, using chemicals will help.
The most common chemical present in stink bug pesticides is deltamethrin. Yet, other chemicals can kill stink bugs such as pyriproxyfen, spinosad, and chlorantraniliprole.
Based on a study about crop protection against stink bugs, it showed that it has high acute mortality while the pyriproxyfen, and spinosad showed a decrease in survival. The study also showed that chlorantraniliprole can reduce the adult fertility of the bug.
Now, let’s go in-depth about the effectiveness of the chemicals I mentioned.
Based on the study, Deltamethrin can kill adult females in about 0.6 days, which is faster than pyriproxyfen that can kill female bugs for 89 days. On the other hand, chlorantraniliprole kills the bugs in 54 days while it takes 47 for the spinosad to kill the bugs.
When it comes to the introduction of the chemicals on the species at the early stage of the bug’s life cycle, it showed that pyriproxyfen and spinosad reduce the survival of the eggs resulting in less than 17% hatchling. The chlorantraniliprole has less than 50% mortality during the bug’s development. It also showed that chlorantraniliprole has a more than 50% reduction in the fertility of adult insects.
Although the results are not as promising as you expect, these chemicals still help in preventing the outbreak. It’s still effective when it’s used with the recommended dose.
How do you get rid of stink bugs organically?
If you’re skeptical about using pesticides on your plants, you can use different ways of getting rid of bugs organically. You can attract birds to your garden or introduce some insects. But that’s a bit challenging because it takes time before you can attract one. It’s also hard to manage their quantity when they start to reproduce. An imbalance in the ecosystem may occur, which you don’t want to happen.
Instead of taking such a route, here are the other ways to get rid of stink bugs organically.
Kaolin clay is a mineral clay that is used for the manufacture of china and fine porcelain. Using it in your garden is safe to use because it’s a natural mineral. To use the clay, mix it with water and liquid soap. Then you spray it on your plant for four weeks. The clay adds a coat on the leaves and fruits but it washes off easily so it’s safe for edible plants.
One of the safest and cost-effective treatments for bug infestation is soapy water. You only need water, soap, vinegar to kill the stink bugs. However, this is only advisable for home use. I assume that your house does not have too much infestation. If the stink bugs are still manageable, spraying soapy water on the entry points such as windowsill can help.
You already know that the wasp that can kill the stink bugs is the samurai wasp. The wasp has shown up in several cities in the US such as Washington DC and New York. The wasps have also shown up in Maryland, West Virginia, and Delaware.
It’s a good idea that you plant crops that stink bugs are attracted to. You can attract the wasps by planting the plant they eat. For example, you can plant sunflowers to attract bugs. However, it’s better if you plant it away from the main crops so it can organically divert the bugs away from the main crops.
The good thing about the wasp is it doesn’t parasitize the plants or attack you so it’s safe to have it in your yard.
You can also use a chemical-free adhesive called sticky traps. It’s used to get rid of insects and pests through its natural adhesive property. It can lure the bugs, which helps you detect their presence. It’s odorless, which is ideal for home use.
Prevention is better than cure. If you’re expecting to harvest your crop by using row covers. The cover prevents the bugs from accessing the plants. It collects the bugs that it attracts then you just need to dispose of it. But before you dispose of it, use soapy water to kill it.
You can use essential oils and neem oil to keep the area unattractive to the bugs. For the essential oil, you just need to mix it with water so you can spray it on the entry zones of your house. Lavender is the best essential oil as it deters the coming of bugs into your area. The good thing about the essential oil is it also makes your place smells good.
For the neem oil, you also do the same, combine it with water. However, it’s important to take note that it takes several weeks to work.
Stink bugs increase when your area is full of weeds. To avoid attracting the bugs, make sure that you always remove the weed. It helps in reducing the chance of attracting the bugs and it also helps your plants grow better.
In case that your plants are infested with stink bugs, don’t mow the weeds where you see the stink bugs. You must kill it once you see it in your crops because mowing them will only push them to relocate on the nearest tree.
Stink bugs are not good for your plant as they infest the reproduction of fruits. If you have a garden or a farm, it’s important to make sure that those bugs don’t exist within the area. You can even prevent it by having birds in your garden that include stink bugs in their diets. If you can reproduce bluebirds, it’s better to have them in your area. However, if it’s too late to realize that it’s already in the area, you can use chemical-based and organic-based pesticides to kill.