Are Stink Bugs Repelled by Citronella?

Over 200 species of stink bugs could potentially plague your lawn, and although they change in appearance, they don’t have one thing in common: They stink. Unfortunately, they are also tough to keep out of your lawn. Although research indicates the citronella plant (Cymbopogon nardus) will repel mosquitoes, nothing suggests it will even repel stink bugs. Instead, you’ll need to use different techniques to deal with the stinky critters.

Stinky Plant

Citronella oil is based in part from the leaves of citronella grass. This tropical plant, which may grow to 6 feet tall, features long, slender green leaves. This tropical plant grows in the warm climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12 and has been proven to repel mosquitoes, but only when the leaves are destroyed along with the scent of the oil is discharged. Some find the scent pleasant, and some do not, but it’s distinctive. Consider planting citronella grass where folks will brush up against the leaves, such as along a walkway or near a porch. It probably won’t keep stink bugs off, but it’s still useful for keeping mosquitoes away.

Stinky Bugs

Stink bugs generally less than one inch long and shield-shaped. The consperse stink bug, (Euschistus conspersus) is one of the very annoying and contains black, speckled legs. Another problematic stink bug, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), has bands around the edges of its entire body. Other stink bugs include the southern green stink bug (Nezara viridula), that has an olive-green body, and Say’s stink bug (Chlorochroa sayi), that is also green but with white edging. Stink bugs infest fruit trees, nut trees and vegetable plants, and they may also be a problem on ornamental plants. Adult stink bugs feed on the flesh of fruit, puncturing the skin and leaving a brownish dimple or corky, sunken place.

Stinky Spray

There’s no effective process to repel stink bugs using plants, plants, and low barrier methods, such as a surrounding a plot of plants using dichotomous earth, don’t function because stink bugs can simply fly straight over it. Row covers may help as long as they are made from fine but breathable material. Row covers also repel pollinators, so this isn’t always a viable solution. Pesticides may be used to temporarily reduce the populations of stink bugs, although they are sometimes not successful and are not a long-term solution, warns University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. If you opt to use a pesticide, then pick one which has low toxicity to pollinators, including a olive oil, which should lessen the amount of nymphs and kill any adults that come into contact with the oil. Instructions vary depending on the manufacturer, but generally speaking, dilute 2 to 4 tbsp of oil in 1 gallon of water and set it in a sprayer. Spray once or twice weekly, based on the intensity of the infestation and kind of plant. Spray the plants on a still, warm day. Thoroughly coat the tops and bottoms of leaves to destroy the nymphs and eggs, and also coat the bodies of any adults.

Tricky Traps

Although they are easy to spot, personal stink bugs can be difficult to kill spot spraying because they move fast. Rather, try trapping them using shallow pan of soapy water — use any liquid soap that will make suds. Then, place a light over the tray. Light the snare using a torch. Stink bugs are attracted to light, and when they investigate they will drown in the soapy water. Empty the tray at the morning. Other strategies to trap the bugs include things like sweeping them in the plants to a container filled with soapy water, or scrubbing them up having an outdoor vacuum. A powerful flow of water may also dislodge the pests from plants. Because the bugs fly, it’s probably any measures that you take will probably only temporarily lessen the numbers of bugs.

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