Organic Gardens/tomatoes and bugs


I must say - I really did enjoy reading you responses - they are more like very detail oriented articles in some fancy magazine .Very very intelligent and refreshing. My favorite one is one watermelon issue -should I put something under my watermelon. Helped me a whole lot ! Thank you for all the time to took to write it!

My question to you  - tomatoes - my tomatoes( not the plants, just the fruit )  are getting attacked by stink bugs and orange things with black dots on them. To my understanding there are GOOD orange bugs and BAD orange bugs. How to control Stink bugs on my tomatoes( and peas and blueberries...) besides putting them all in a glass jar and throwing them off a cliff - and how do I differentiate between good and bad orange guys on my tomatoes. I live in South Carolina off the coast - 29412.

Thank you ever so much !

Ah, the stench of summer Stinkbugs!

Yes,at last, an answer -- I apologize for the ridiculous amount of time responding. What can I say. It's summer.

What a enjoyable leadin to a question. This, I could read over and over.

Now let's get down to business.

It's the grownup Stinkbugs that enjoy raiding your vegetable garden for a tall glass of tomato juice.  They pretty much ruin the whole plant if you let them. But if you stress them in the slightest (and this is SO easy to do), blasts of Decenaldehyde and Trans-2-octenal (accurately described by one gardener as reminding him of "a cucumber gone over to the dark side") -- molecules that put the stink in Stinkbugs -- will surely ruin your appetite, if not your day.  Even worse, these smelly molecular crumbs become lures for MORE Stinkbugs to set camp in your backyard, next to the food.

The Brown Stinkbug is a relative newcomer. But it has spread like wildfire and so it merits research about safe, effective control.  These impoted insects can have a devastating effect on entire ecosystems if not managed in time.  It took scientists in Japan, where Stinkbugs ruin rice paddies, to come up with the most significant Stink Bug control:

They found that the White-Spotted Stinkbug, Eysarcoris ventralis, succumbed -- more accurately, eschewed -- a compound isolated from a friendly fungus found flourishing in Foxtail plants:

The compound, 3-(4-methylfuran-3-yl)propan-1-ol, would be worth trying on ANY Stinkbug situation, if only you could find it.  This stuff will surely be on shelves.  But not today.

University of California posts a hopeful Stinkbug solution with IPM techniques for ....Tomatoes:

Trouble is, Californians are stuck with Consperse Stink Bug.  That's not a problem in South Carolina.  According to Clemson University researchers, the Palmetto State has a different problem: the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys, of which University of Maryland has posted an excellent illustration:

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page linked above and tell me: Are those orange bugs the ones around your Tomatoes?

In Maryland, they recommend Chickens as good Halyomorpha predators.  (Chickens are also good controls for slugs.  Unfortunately, they eat many other things along the way.)  Alternately, Praying Mantids dine on them, although I suspect even the Praying Mantid will find Stink Bugs repulsive -- they will however devour their nymphs, which is extremely important in mild climates such as yours.

The most formidable threat to Halyomorphae is the alliance of Cornell, the USDA and several other Stink Bug hating organizations.  They have created a Stink Bug website:

which stands for "Stop the Brown Marborated Stink Bug.  Surely you've seen it in your Stink Bug research.

Although the "parasitoid wasps" being studied as potential weapons may make you nervous, these are not the people-stinging insects we hate to have in the room.  They are tiny, benign (to humans) minibugs that lay eggs on top of the unlucky host; the hatching baby bugs feast on the host's flesh.

But these wasps, like other predators, can be picky eaters.  And the research into which wasp works best, if at all, is recent -- and incomplete.   There's also the Kaolin-based leaf and fruit treatments that are floating around the internet that looks like a good alternative, although I have not used it up here.

For now, Rodale's tedious, labor intensive controls seem to be the best solution.  This is very low tech, but it's something: (1) Hand pick them off and (2) eradicate their young to minimize populations.

A year from now, there will be solid solutions.  But be cautious about growing Tomatoes two years in a row in the same location.  With the Stinkbugs already mapping Tomato locations, crop rotation will become an extremely important decision.  Rotate, rotate, rotate.

Now you have our first Stink Bugs edition.  But not our last.


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Long Island Gardener


There is NO EXCUSE today for a gardener to use chemicals. Perfect Lawns? Pristine Roses? Immaculate Flowers all Summer long? If you live in the Northeast/Atlantic Coast, I'll guide you down the non-toxic road to Organica - and you will not believe how easy it can be. Yes, it can be complicated, but backing off from Ortho and Scotts is not as hard as you think. Your neighbors won't believe their eyes. I have intelligent answers on soil care, bug killing, weed control and fungus-freedom!


I have college credits in horticulture and botany, and 30 years of gardening for personal pleasure. Plus I am a volunteer docent at the local botanical gardens. But a person's real gardening skills are learned from trial and error. I am strict about not using chemicals in the garden. Always have been. Always will be.

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