Thursday, July 4, 2013

More about (Good) Soldier Bugs and (Bad) Stink Bugs

Spined Soldier Bug - Note dark spot on wing tips
My beginning gardener son, Joel, not content with my advice about how to contend with the bugs on his plants made some interesting discoveries.

He placed a leaf with bug eggs on it in a zip lock bag and noted what hatched.  Instead of the stink bugs he expected, parasitic wasps emerged.  The wasps had pierced the stink bug eggs and deposited their eggs inside.  Stink bug eggs are not the only ones the wasps parasitize.  This further reinforces my inclination not to get too alarmed about bugs.  Any steps we take to eradicate harmful bugs, almost certainly will also deplete the good bug population which is working to help us.

I have contented myself with handpicking stink bugs and potato beetles and their larvae from plants where they are damaging the edible portions of the plant.  This helps to interrupt the reproductive cycle and in a few weeks, I see very few bugs.  If it's just leaves on a fruiting plant,  looks may suffer, but usually not the fruit, such as the case with most bug damage to eggplants.  I have also mashed eggs, but I'll be more careful about that in the future.  

Joel also determined better ways to identify the difference between stink bugs and helpful soldier bugs and has shared links with a great deal of good information about garden bugs, and how to identify them.  He found that all bug pictures on the web are not labeled correctly, so he relied mostly on university entomology sites.

Difference between stink bug and soldier bug, including pictures

Beneficial bug ID pictures from University of Arkansas
Additional ID pictures for stink bug and predaceous (soldier) stink bug
Spined Soldier Bug photo at U of Tenn site

Photos of stink bug and soldier bug beaks - how to distinguish - U of Tenn
Loads of info here with many links to pics, etc. - NCSU
Stink bug eggs are normally white and the ones that have been parasitized are dark or brown in color. The two types of wasps below are what I've found on our tomato plants and hatching out of the stink bug eggs.

Additional wasp and egg photos

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