First of all, the big gray long legged stink bug is not a stink bug at all. They are technically called Leaf Footed Bugs. They are a different insect family altogether than stink bugs. When you are out looking for a treatment, the treatment you get for a stink bug may not be effective at all on the Leaf footed bug.
Prevention is the Key
The big secret to eliminating pests in the garden, is to prevent their presence in the first place. This is almost impossible for small gardens because we don’t have access to the chemicals that big produce farms have available or the equipment used to disperse it at the right time.
What most people don’t know about various insect pests in the garden, is the fact that most of them go through developmental life cycles.
Once they reach their “adult” stage, many will develop a tough shell that makes them much harder to get rid of or even control somewhat. Leaf footed bugs go through a nymph stage before they develop into the horrid pest we are all familiar with.
This is the best time to treat them with regular broad band insecticides or your favorite organic pesticide.
The most effective way to deal with the pests is to treat them in their beginning developmental stages. There are many chemicals that can kill stink bugs and other pests in their weaker developmental nymph stages. If you’ve found this article, both you and I are past this point..
There are so many pests and different ways to deal with them, but you didn’t come here for that! You came here looking how to get rid of that annoying, stinking gigantic grey stink bug that ruins your tomatoes!
I only tried about three different types of pesticides up to a point from various companies to no avail. All of them contained pyrethrin, the recommended chemical to control these insects.
I don’t know what they mean by “control”, but these just did not work for me. I also used malathion. No luck there either. They just shrugged this off and pinched their noses at the horrible smell.
I personally don’t like using Malathion because it smells like diesel fuel and it worries me to eat vegetables that have been sprayed with it.
I did not try Neem Oil or Insecticidal Soap either, so I can’t say whether these will work or not.
Since originally writing this post I have come across a (so far) very effective and amazing product called Spinosad. It is created from a bacteria found in old rum casks in one location on the earth. Nowhere else! I guess they know where the party is at.
It is certified organic and will last 5 to 7 days after a normal application. This meaning, if it doesn’t rain every day terribly.
I totally recommend giving it a try. I have not seen a caterpillar on my tomatoes in over a week and the Leaf Footed Bugs have not shown their ugly face in my garden yet.
Hands On Approach
What I did do, is a simple technique, and I wish I had done it a month ago.
I read to just squash them in your hand (wearing gloves of course because they stink). These proved ineffective because they saw me coming apparently and would just fly off. Eventually I found the trick.
I filled a small bucket with some water and mixed a bit of dish soap in it, and literally swatted the bugs into it with a flat piece of plastic. You can use anything you can get your hands on that is wide enough to swat them into it. A paint stirring stick or a ruler would be great.
A few would still fly away but with a quick flick of the wrist I was able to swat a good twenty or so into the bucket in just a few minutes. This can easily be done without damaging your plants or fruit like the squish method may cause.
After a couple of sessions of this over a span of two days, I was able to thin the population down to about half a dozen. I literally had an infestation I think because I had let them go for so long without a proper way to get rid of them.
This is how I saved my tomatoes and pepper plants. The chemicals I tried wasted time and money. In the time waiting to see if they worked or not, I lost a lot of beautiful tomatoes. I hope this primitive sounding method helps you save a lot of time a hard work.
This may not be feasible on a larger scale but if you have a small tomato garden, it works great. I personally only have nine plants in a hydroponic setup and it saved my crop. The tomatoes are a nice solid color now instead of the dappled yellow victims of nasty insects sucking on them all day.
If you have another method that has been effective or know of a chemical or organic product that drops them in their tracks, please leave a comment below.