Thursday, September 30, 2010

Marmorated Stink Bugs!

There is little we sufferers can do to deter the stink bug infestations we're experiencing this year, beyond caulking every crack, opening, window, baseboard to seal the house. Once they've gotten inside, cats have been helpful as have vacuum cleaners (if you don't mind the lingering scent) and tissues and toilet bowls (my weapons of choice). Insecticides not only have proven ineffective but also are known to upset the beneficial insect population, especially valuable to fruit farmers. But help will be on the way. Read below.

From Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences:

On the Trail of the Stink Bug

Posted: September 23, 2010

On Wednesday, September 22, nearly 14,000 people visited our college’s website to learn about the brown marmorated stink bug.

On the Trail of the Stink Bug

The brown marmorated stink bug

This brown marmorated stink bug (the BMSB, from here on) is relatively new to Pennsylvania and the United States. It is known to be a pest in its native range in Asia, but it was first noticed in Pennsylvania only in 1998. The bug (and this is a case where “bug” is the right term – insects related to the stink bug are, indeed, true bugs) has been a nuisance to homeowners for several years. It spends the winter as an adult in sheltered locations, so it begins to congregate on the outside of homes this time of year, and it can find its way inside, to the chagrin of residents.

This summer, however, we’re seeing a different side of the stink bug. It has emerged as a significant pest of food and feed crops. Fruit growers are noticing serious injury – the stink bug feeds by sucking plant fluids through its beak, and the damage at the feeding site leads to rejection of the fruit by the consuming public, even though the damage is cosmetic only. In addition to fruit, the BMSB is attacking a range of vegetables and even agronomic crops such as soybeans: farmers may well notice some significant loss of crop yield as harvest progresses.

The real danger of the BMSB, in my opinion, is that it is such an important pest in apples that growers may feel compelled to apply additional pesticides to protect their crop. This could basically take us back 30 years in our efforts to work with orchardists to reduce pesticides based upon the principles of integrated pest management, or IPM. We’ve helped apple growers drastically reduce their pesticide use over recent decades, all based on research that led to improved understanding of pest biology and the use of natural enemies and alternatives to chemical pesticides to manage the pests. These alternatives don’t control the BMSB, so a return to pesticide treatments targeting this new pest could completely disrupt our IPM progress.

We don’t know a lot about this new bug yet, but this example illustrates the capability of our land-grant system here in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Whether we are talking about our role in managing and eventually helping to eradicate the fruit disease plum pox virus, our efforts to get to the bottom of colony collapse disorder in honey bees, or even our education and research efforts on Marcellus Shale natural gas on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens, time and again faculty, educators, staff, and students in our college step up to tackle new problems and find solutions. The combination of Cooperative Extension and agricultural research, which together bring fundamental discoveries down to earth as solutions to real-world problems, is the power of the Land-Grant.

We don’t have the answers on the brown marmorated stink bug yet, but stand by. Our team is on the job. Connect with us on Facebook for additional information as it becomes available.

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  1. Gross! I think I found something like that in my attic. I have been obsessed with bed bugs (no known infestation in my home yet) and field mice (they found my home a great place to visit this summer). Now the stink bug......Yuck!

  2. whoaaaa. . .stink bugs really have a high infestation on crops. . .whoaa.....grrrr....we must have a solution on that.