The weather is hot and the insects are very active. There are termites swarming in the evenings. Suddenly, I realise that the citrus stink bugs have moved in. Usually, they come in small numbers and are green. They slowly change over a week or two to a copper colour. Then finally to a shiny black. This is when they are sexually mature and start to breed. I hadn’t noticed them in the lead up as I might usually do. I guess that I’ve been too busy lately. I’ve been watering the citrus trees, but I didn’t notice them.
Now that I have noticed them, I start to crush them with my fingers. There are lots of ways to deal with them, but quickly reaching in to the foliage and crushing them between the fingers is the fastest and most effective. I have a 98% hit rate. Very few are fast enough to get away. If they do, they don’t go far and usually land on another branch where I track them down and finish them off.
If i don’t deal with them, they will breed up and eventually suck all the juices out of the new growth, killing it. Also sucking the life out of the small fruit, until it drops of. So, with all the new growth dead and all the small fruit gone. this sets the tree back a whole year. Left unchecked, it’s a disaster that means hardly any fruit and an stunted tree.
I finish off every bug that I can see. So much so that my hands turn yellow with the acrid juices that the bugs spray out as some sort of protection. I have to be careful to keep my eyes clear, so as not to get sprayed in the eye. My hands are quite stained and they stink, but the job is mostly done. I will now return every day to the citrus grove to clean up any strays that I might have missed. I get 100 or so the first day and maybe another 30 or so the next. I don’t like killing things, but this is a case of defending my food supply. I can’t get them all, there will be some that get away and go on to breed, so that there is always another generation every year.
The second day I take out another 20 or so more. This time, I take the precaution of wearing rubber gloves. I’m not too sure what long term effect this caustic stink bug juice will have on my skin. It certainly smells awful!