Twig or Tip Wilter

Twig Wilters or Tip Wilters are so called because they suck out the plant juices just below the tip of a new branch causing it to droop and wilt soon afterwards. Anoplocnemis curvipes is the most common pest species in South Africa attacking many crop plants as well as garden ornamentals and vegetables.

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They feed on over 200 types of plants and there are thousands of variations of this family. They have sucking and piercing mouth parts to pierce the branch of a tree and inject enzymes that wilt the tip of a branch, they then feed on the digested matter.

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Some species in this family with hind legs expanded and somewhat leaf-like, and those are commonly called Leaf Footed Bugs.  When threatened they emit a foul-smelling fluid (similar to shield, or stink bugs).
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Advantages & Disadvantages for Gardeners

Due to the diet of stink bugs, they are both advantageous and harmful to plants. They feed on different plants and insects. Stink bugs suck sap from the fruiting parts of plants, and can considerably injure plants. Some are also harmful for the foliage. On the other hand, predatory stink bugs eat other pests, such as caterpillars, and therefore can be advantageous as well.

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Though stink bugs are harmless, they emit a foul smell when killed. This odor is a deterrent from predation, but there are still several predators that kill stink bugs.
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Tachinid Flies

The tachinid fly parasitizes. These tiny flies lay their eggs inside the stink bug. When the larvae hatch, they feed on the stink bug. Though the stink bugs will still emit a smell after their death, the quick parasitization of the tachinid fly means that the smell does not last long.

Chickadees

 Though few birds are willing to trade a meal for the foul smell of the stink bug, the black-capped chickadee is a notable exception. These birds happily prey on several species of stink bugs. These birds also enjoy sunflower seeds, so filling a bird feeder with sunflower seeds is a great way to attract chickadees and eliminate stink bugs.

Skunks

Wildlife expert Jack Hubley points out that stink bugs may be eaten by another smelly animal — the skunk. Skunks are omnivorous mammals that eat a variety of weeds, fruits and insects, including stink bugs. Promoting skunk and wildlife conservation is an excellent way to prevent an overabundance of stink bugs in your area.

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Other Insects

A few other insects prey on stink bugs. Praying mantids, large green insects known for their unusual body posture, frequently prey on stink bugs. Parasitic wasps like the braconid wasp feed stink bugs to larvae. The adults sting and paralyze the stink bugs, then carry them back to their nests where freshly hatched wasps will devour them.

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Beware of those chemicals

There may be times when we need to use insecticides on our crops and plants. But whenever possible we should try to use one that won’t destroy beneficial insects.   However, insecticides often kill as many beneficial insects as they kill pests. Don’t automatically assume that insects on the crop are pests. Instead, do some research to see if the insect can be used as a biological control agent.  Being in too much of a hurry to spray with insecticides can easily disrupt a balanced food chain.

Biological control insects

Ladybirds:

  • In both their larva and adult form, ladybirds eat aphids, leaf hoppers, mites, scale insects, small caterpillars and other pests. A single ladybird can consume up to 50 aphids a day.

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 Hoverflies:

  • Adults feed on pollen and nectar, and are important pollinators. The larvae eat aphids and small caterpillars. As do ladybird larvae, a single larva can eat more than 50 aphids a day. The larvae are approximately 1cm long and resemble small bird droppings.

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How to Make a Natural Insecticide

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