Here’s a cautionary tale. Bronze orange bugs are stinkbugs and they are around in large numbers on citrus trees in early summer – particularly on orange trees. I was outside picking up the last oranges for the year, which had fallen under my tree, when I sniffed the distinct smell of stinkbug. The perfume from the orange blossom almost masked it, but as I disturbed the leaves, the smell became stronger.
I soon spotted lots of the round light orange and green juveniles along with some mature bronze shield-shaped adults. They were clustered on stems and leaves. And there were wilted tips where these bugs had been feeding.
I took the oranges inside and came back out armed with gloves, sunglasses, tongs and a plastic bag. There are lots of ways of getting rid of these pests but as they exude a noxious smelly liquid you want to protect your eyes and hands if you are planning to catch them.
My plan of action was to grab them with the tongs, drop them into the bag and then kill them by putting them in the freezer (double bagged). I have also had great success sneaking up on the adults on a hot summer’s day when they seek shade and shelter in the middle of the day by congregating on the trunk of the tree. A few whacks with a thong (or flip flop for anyone who is reading this and doesn’t come from thong-on-the-feet-wearing Australia) and they gonners.
Another option is to capitalise on their survival tactic, which is to drop to the ground when they are disturbed. As the adults can fly they opt to avoid a predator by dropping down (squirting a bit of noxious liquid at you as they go) and then either hide in the grass or actually fly off. You can catch them in a bucket filled with soapy water as they drop. The juveniles however don’t fly so they don’t drop to the ground as readily. I decided physically removing them was the best option for now.
I’d gathered most of them when one adult fell to the ground. Before I could squash it with my shoe, the dog rushed in to see what was happening. Zap, it got him in his little pug face. He immediately began rolling around, rubbing his face on the grass. I got a cloth, wiped his face and he seemed okay.
We went indoors – the double-bagged beasty bag went into the freezer – and I changed my garden clothes and headed off to a Christmas party. It was quite late when I arrived home, but the first thing I saw was Larry sitting look at me with one eye closed.
The vet couldn’t be sure if it was the bronze orange bug that had caused the problem, or if he had collided with a bush while running around chasing rabbits (which he had done after I left, later in the day), but he was sure about the $344 bill for removing some black gunky stuff from under the ulcer in his eye lid.
There are a few more bugs out on the orange tree, but I’ll be locking Larry inside before I head out to dispatch them. This crop of oranges better be worth it!