How to get rid of Stink bugs or Bronze Orange bugs from your citrus trees
If you have any citrus tree, you may have noticed stinky Orange Bugs damaging your trees in summer.
Early October and November are when Bronze Orange bugs appear on citrus trees. The bugs suck the sap from young shoots, fruits and flowers and damage your citrus trees. They mainly attack orange trees, lime trees, manderines, grapefruit etc.
The young ones are initially green, gradually darkening as they get older (See the image above). When they are young, bronze orange bugs are hard to spot as their colour closely matches the colour of the leaves of citrus trees. Once they start aging, wings start to develop, and they start flying short heights.
If your neighbours have neglected citrus trees, then it is the place where they migrate from. They lay eggs under the leaves of citrus plants, usually newly grown leaves.
In the initial stages it is hard to identify the bug. But as it starts growing, the visibility increases as the bug changes its colour to orange, and it will look like orange flowers on a tree. It will be visibe even from far. As the bug sucks the sap, the leaves, shoots and flowers will wrinkle, and shrivel. Also you can feel the foul smell when you approach or pass by the tree. The bugs lay and hatch eggs when the temperature increases, so it is important to get rid of them as soon as the eggs become visible, usually under the leaves.
Steps to Control Orange Bugs
Wear protective goggles, long sleeves, gloves and a hat as they can squirt an evil smelling chemical in their attackers direction. The chemical is quite corrosive and can cause sight problems if it gets in your eyes, stains the skin and can cause a burning sensation.
1) Control them in spring and summer by spraying with an agricultural soap liquid to kill the eggs and nymphs, ensure that you spray it on the underside of the leaves. Agricultural soap only works on direct contact with the pests, So it has to be sprayed on plants in such a way that the entire plant is wet. Agricultural Soaps have a low toxicity and are therefore considered safe to be used around children and pets.
2) Eggs are layed continuously in the warmer months and are roughly 3mm in size. If you can take a closer look beneath the leaves, and remove them, the impact will be better, than removing fully-grown Bugs.
3) If there aren’t too many, manual removal is possible. Use tongs to pick the insect and put it in to Soap water or crush the bugs with your boots. Once it starts flying, it is hard to pick with tongs, so it is better to get them before they reach that stage.
4) Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the insects from the tree. Use an old vacuum cleaner if possible, as once sucked the vacuum cleaner tends to get the foul smell.
If it is really bad, you may have to use Confidor. You can get it in Bunnings or Woolworths (Use this only if it becomes uncontrollable, since it will kill the ladybird and other
beneficial predatory insects which affects the biological control and ofcourse it may leave residue in your fruit). You can find the details on Confidor Spray in this link.
6) It is better to prune the tree, and keep it like a shrub all the time. If it grows very tall, it becomes hard to control them, as they usually stay on the top making it hard to catch them or spray on them.
If the temperature goes beyond 40 degrees, that would be the best time to pick the bugs as they all march down the trunk of the tree, and accumulate in the bottom of the trunk. Once picked, put the bugs in soap water to get rid of them. This is the ideal time and you are guaranteed to be almost 90% stink bug-free organically !
If the smelling liquid from the bug gets in to your eyes
1) Wash your eyes with pure water
2) If the pain persists, consult your GP
You can see the liquid squirted by the orange bug on the thorn of the lemon tree.