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Crop Damage by Stink Bugs

Making It Grow Minute

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Just as mosquitoes inject saliva into mammals before extracting blood, stink bugs use their saliva to dissolve a portion of plant tissue before sucking them out. That portion of the plant – be it a vegetable, a peach, a grain of rice, or a pecan, is damaged and can’t grow properly, leaving a foul-tasting, puckered and hard area. These insects eat a huge varieity of plants and move easily from one meal to the next. Home gardeners and commercial farmers are equally affected. If peanuts are grown near pecan orchards, when the peanuts are harvested, the stink bug move into the pecan trees. Now that the boll-worm eradication program and plants resistant to caterpillar damage have dramatically reduced the insect problems in cotton, stink bugs have become the major pest of that very important crop to South Carolina’s farming economy.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.