It turns out the stinkbug is the culprit responsible for the damage to our tomatoes (and beans, and peppers).
Yup, it is the the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), according to the University of MD Extension. This East Asian native hitchhiked to the US in shipping containers around 2001 and the population has recently boomed in this area.
Although we have our very own native stink bugs, the brown marmorated are quite destructive and the damage in our communal gardening plot has been extensive. They are hard to eradicate – using a floating row cover, handpicking, pyrethrum spray or shaking them into a bucket of soapy water seem to your best bets. Something to keep in mind for next year.
Not only are the brown marmorated stink bugs a problem in the garden, they are also a problem in the home.
Along with the Asian lady bird beetles and box-elder bugs, this stinker will want to come inside with you when the weather turns cooler. Strategies to prevent them hunkering down for the winter include sealing up possible points of entry and using a vacuum cleaner if they show up inside (and changing the vacuum bag frequently).
If you squash them or get too many in the vac, you’ll know why they are so aptly named.