Gardening Tips for Bugs and Critters

The inescapable has happened.  The dreaded garden pests–stink-harlequin bugs, squirrels, and rabbits–have invaded my garden and seemingly all at once.

On one hand, stink bugs are prehistoric looking insects.  They are appropriately named because when crushed they give off a foul-smelling odor.  So, crushing these critters is definitely not the way to get rid of them.  Harlequin bugs, a distant cousin, are brightly colored with red, yellow, and black.  Both are damaging to vegetables gardens and particularly to the cabbage family including my broccoli.

Stink Bug

Stink bug, nymph stage, Clifton Park Community Garden, photo by Harold E. McCray

Asia is the origin of stinkbugs, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 1998, in Allentown, PA, says the USDA, is where the first known outbreak of stinkbugs.  Packing crates from Asia are considered the method of transport. The harlequin bugs, however, have been around for some time and their habitat is in the tropical and subtropical areas.  Now, they have a wide range in North America.

To ward off these pests, dusting the infected leaves with a combination of baking soda and self-rising flour, as another gardener suggested, has proved unsuccessful.  I have tried this on my broccoli.  Once moisture gets on the vegetable, however, this mixture hardens.  Also, browning of the florets occurs if you have dusted them carelessly as you can see in my photo.

Dusted Broccoli

Dusted broccoli, Clifton Park Community Garden, photo by Harold E. McCray

The stink-harlequin bugs have few predators.  The stink bugs are their “nymph stage during their population explosion beginning in late June.”  They cannot fly.  The mature bugs fly later in the season.  In their flightless stage is when the stink bugs are most destructive to garden crops as they eat their way to adulthood.

Picking the bugs off vegetable leaves, and dropping them into a cup filled with part alcohol and dish detergent is the best solution. The detergent cuts through the stink-harlequin bugs’ shield, causing them to drown.

Another solution worth mentioning is “soaking a pack of shredded cigarettes,” as Cindy Capitani writes in the New Jersey Daily Record, “in a gallon of warm water overnight.”  Strain the liquid, add two tablespoons of dish washing detergent to the mix, pour liquid into a spray bottle, aim, and spray the bugs to rid your garden of these critters.  Yes, nicotine is a poison to stink bugs.

Stink bug minutes after using “nicotine” spray, Clifton Park Community Garden, photo by Harold E. McCray.

An update:  The United States Department of Agriculture’s scientist Kim Hoelmer has demonstrated promising results with the “Asian wasps that would steal stink bug eggs for their own young Asian wasps.”    Apparently, native bats will eat these critters too, but “more than 50% of American species,” states the Compassionate Action Institute, “are in serious decline or already listed as endangered.”  Perhaps the dwindling  bat population might partly explain the explosion in numbers of  the stink-harlequin bugs.

On the other hand, squirrels and rabbits are old pests to vegetable gardeners.  Suggestions vary from sprinkling crushed cayenne pepper on the leaves of vegetables squirrels and rabbits eat, to placing moth balls around the perimeter of your garden to ward them off. I have followed both suggestions. Consequently, I am unable to say which is the best suggestion. (Ask me again in a month.)

Squirrels, with their cute “fluffy tails,” are urban rodents, and are busy all day. Rabbits are nocturnal as they devour your prized garden items. Each relies on its strong sense of smell, however, to identify predators, but there are few urban predators.  Some cats, and dogs present a threat to them, but many gardeners use others methods to chase away these critters.

Squirrel eating corn in nearby garden

Squirrel eating corn in Clifton Park Community Garden, photo by Harold E. McCray

Researching other suggestions, I have found the master gardener, Jerry Baker   In his book, Bug Off, Baker writes about another solution for squirrels and rabbits. (You will especially find his  “compose tea” mixture enlightening.)
I have prepared a variation on “Safe-and-sound Pesticide,” and “Squirrel beater tonic” listed below:

  1. Add to a cup of water to jalapeño pepper and several red pepper pods to a pot.
  2. Bring pot to a boiled, and then cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Puree and pour through strainer–a coffee filter is what I used.
  4. Pour liquid into a jar, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and baking soda.
  5. Shake and pour into a spray bottle, adding water to fill the container.
  6. Go out to your garden with your zapper.

So, now you are ready to combat garden critters with natural repellents.  Here is wishing you good luck in protecting your garden from the inescapable pests: stink-harlequin bugs, squirrels, and rabbits.

About Harold McCray

Artist in the kitchen enjoying my three passions: cooking, photography, and writing.
This entry was posted in Gardening, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Gardening Tips for Bugs and Critters

  1. I have been meaning to post something like this on my blog and this provided me an idea. All the best.

    • Early June is when the problem with the garden pest began for me. Fellow gardeners have shared their tips, but few of them really worked well. I am intrigued how this research exposed me to the plight of native bats and to the Deleware University study– a friend shared this one with me. Good to read that you plan to tackle pests in the garden. I look forward to reading your blog.

  2. Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is not that great, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at. WordPress Seo Plugin

  3. Thanks for your whole labor on this website. Ellie really likes doing investigations and it’s really easy to see why. A number of us notice all about the lively manner you render precious items by means of the web site and in addition boost participation from others on this topic plus our own child is actually understanding a great deal. Have fun with the rest of the new year. Your conducting a splendid job.

    • I do hope you will share your child’s reaction to my October and November Garden blog. This is my first time extending the gardening season. I am having fun doing it. I so enjoy working in the garden. It’s a creative process. Also, thanks for the encouraging words. I would like to continue next year blogging.

  4. CraigTorson says:

    Great post if you ask me. Thanks for enlightning that info.

    Craig Torson
    wifi jammers

  5. Pingback: Shredded cigarettes | Growingambit

  6. Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a high risk decision great post!

  7. I like this blog so much, saved to fav. “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.” by Peter De Vries.

  8. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  9. Wat een handige en mooie website! Ik mis alleen nog behoorlijk wat informatie over het EK Voetbal 2012 is het mogelijk dat daar meer informatie over wordt geplaatst?

  10. I was very pleased to obtain this web-site.I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful article!! I really enjoyed every tiny piece of it and I’ve you saved to check out new stuff you blog post.

  11. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this web site wants way more consideration. I’ll in all probability be once more to learn far more, thanks for that info.

    • You are kind and I do hope you return soon. Let me apologize for the delay in responding. My last post resulted in many more comments than I had anticipated. It’s good to know that others are reading my blog. Please return to read future posts and I hope you subscribe.

  12. omg snow says:

    45. I delight in, lead to I found exactly what I was taking a look for. You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  13. I definitely appreciate this post! Please create more tutorials.

    • Robena, I will try to create a few more videos. They are fun to do and forces me to be creative in the space I have available. Please subscribe to read future blogs and continue to share your comments. Thank you.

  14. I’ve recently started a blog, the info you offer on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

    • Thanh, you might consider buying a copy of “WordPress – Visual Quickstart Guide,” by Jessica Neuman Beck and Matt Beck. It has helped me tremendously. Meanwhile, please subscribe to read future blogs. Keep me posted on your blog too. Thank you.

  15. I appreciate the article, it was interesting and compelling. I found my way here through Google, I shall get back one more time 🙂

  16. Tyson Rollf says:

    Thank you your post, previously it was interesting and compelling. I discovered my way here through Google, I am going to come back once more 🙂

  17. Smart piece of writing. Remember to keep up the excellent performance.

  18. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

    • Norman, it is exactly the Internet which keeps me informed. There are some many people willing to share their knowledge that keeps me up-to-date. People like you make blogging so enriching. Please subscribe to read future blogs and continue to share your comments. It really helps me to improve. Thank you.

  19. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

    • Demetrius, sorry to here about the problem you have experienced with my RSS. I have corrected the problem. Please let me know if it is working for you now. Again, thanks for alerting me to this problem.

  20. […]always a significant fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but don?t get a whole lot of link adore from[…]

  21. Evelynn Pack says:

    Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    • Evelynn, I have a “Twitter” account, but I haven’t quite figure out how to use it properly. I will move learning more about “Twitter” at the top of my must do list. Thank you for your message.

  22. Melodie Seckinger says:

    Gardening is an endless job, with many pitfalls. It doesn’t take much to completely ruin a beautiful garden by planting the wrong plants, or not planting them correctly. We have plenty of articles to make sure that everything goes as planned. From planting to weeding and poisons to plant food. Never worry that you will get it wrong when you have a resource like directweb helping you.;:

    My favorite internet page

    • Melodie, Thanks for your comments. Yes, gardening is an endless job. This spring mother nature has been a little late in turning off the frost. I lost some plants, but the bulk of my garden is doing well. Now I have an opportunity to write a few comments about planting seeds, and how planting too soon might stress plants and causing them to bolt. Where is your garden located and what are you growing?

    • Yes, Melodie, gardening is an endless job. Just when you think the temperature is warming up, there is a frost–it happened here in Baltimore the day before “Mother’s day.” We experienced temperatures in the high 30s after a few days of 90 degree temperatures. Of course, my tomatoes plants didn’t make it. Wrapping newspaper around and on top of the tomato cages helped (smile). Today we are experiencing another day of abnormally cool weather for this time of the month. As you’ve said, there are”many pitfalls,” but I love gardening.

  23. Nice post. I study one thing more challenging on completely different blogs everyday. It is going to all the time be stimulating to learn content material from other writers and apply somewhat one thing from their store. I’d favor to make use of some with the content material on my weblog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

  24. 95Audry says:

    Hi blogger, i must say you have very interesting articles here.
    Your blog should go viral. You need initial traffic only.
    How to get it? Search for; Mertiso’s tips go viral

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.