Q Tell me more about stink bugs.
A Stink bugs (Pentatoma rufipes), also known as forest or place bugs, live on a wide range of plants, including cherries, nuts and raspberries. They are reddish-brown, about 15mm long, with an orange spot in the centre of their backs, between their folded wings. They overwinter as immature nymphs, reaching adulthood during the summer. At cherry and raspberry-picking time they are present, often in large numbers. Although they will eat foliage or suck plant sap, they mainly hunt caterpillars and other insects among the leaves. Unfortunately, they emit a powerful smell when handled, which can taint fruit. They also leave sticky secretions on the plants, which can make raspberry picking rather unpleasant.
Caption: Stinkbugs are about 15mm long
Q What can I do about stink bugs?
A Normally there is no need to do anything, but if they infest trees every year, grease bands around the tree trunks will control them. They spend the winter in foliage at the base of the tree and climb up the trunk in spring. Use a specially developed tree grease, not lubricating grease which can damage the bark.
As they thrive in grassy places, removing grass and replacing it with bare soil or a mulch will help discourage them.
On raspberries, a garden insecticide containing pyrethrum, such as PY Insect Killer will probably control them. Don’t forget to leave the recommended safety period between spraying the bushes and picking the fruit.