Stinking Stink Bugs Wednesday December 12, 2018
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brown marmorated stinkbug

The brown marmorated stinkbug has ruined many an apple.

The Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

Invasive Stinkbugs

Here in America, we have our own native stinkbugs: of which, as kids, I'm sure there isn't a one of us that hasn't harassed a stink bug long enough into rearing its hindquarters – just for the fun of watching it do so. But, there’s a new bug in town – the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug.

This particular stinkbug is believed to have arrived in the country by accident via cargo ships from Asia. The Asian stink bug originated in China, Japan, and Korea; it was first discovered in Pennsylvania and is now established in 41 states (including California).

Map of origins of the brown marmolated stink bug

The Brown Marmolated Stink Bug´s Native Land is Asia.

The brown marmorated stinkbug is only about the size of a dime but it sure has cost a “boatload” of money in crop damage since it “sailed” into our ports.

Stinking Stinkbug Invasion

According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Department, the brown marmorated stinkbug is a “winged invader from Asia that is eating our crops and infesting U.S. homes . . .”

This invader will eat just about anything, including fruits, vegetables, and beans.

It is also considered a residential pest because it overwinters inside homes until spring arrives. We’re not speaking of just a few bugs in the house but thousands of these stink bugs! And – their stinky smell, used as a defense mechanism, attracts enemies such as spiders – which results in additional pest problems!

Pinacate Beetle

This big black stinkbug is the kind of stink bug Californian´s are most familiar with; you know, the stinkbugs we played with as kids. . . . They´re called - Pinacate Beetles or Clown Beetles.

Damage to Crops Caused by the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

Close up of brown marmorated stinkbug

Close up of the brown marmorated stinkbug´s face. True bugs have sucking mouth parts, check this mouth out! Next time you see a depression in an apple, think before you decide to eat it - it may have been injected by this guy´s saliva. Yuck!

You can blame this stink bug for the additional pesticides commercial growers have been using on apple orchards! In 2010, the brown marmorated stinkbug caused $37 million in damage to the apple industry, just on the Atlantic side alone!

Some of the ways the stinkbug damages fruit is by injecting its saliva, causing brown spots and depressions in the fruit.

For vegetables such as corn, individual kernels are destroyed; in beans, the pods are scarred. Evidently, the brown marmorated stinkbug likes wine grapes too, leaving grapes destroyed and/or providing us with tainted wine!

The USDA is having some success with pheromone lure type traps to catch as many of the invaders as possible in order to protect crops.

Effective Pest Control for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

USDA Staff inspecting traps for brown marmorated stinkbug

USDA Staff Inspecting Traps Baited with Experimental Pheromone Lures.

Homeowners also have to be careful of the brown marmorated stinkbug: besides overwintering, they also cause damage to plants and trees in garden landscapes.

The stinkbug sucks out juices from plants and feeds on tree leaves. Eggs are usually found in a cluster on a leaf of the host tree or plant.

Research conducted by the USDA, indicated that essential oils act as a repellent for the bug but the best form of pest control, at least on large crops, is the pheromone lure traps.

The biggest problem for homeowners is when the weather starts to turn cold: Brown marmorated stink bugs make their way inside and go into semi-hibernation during the winter months.

Because the bugs are small, they can enter through cracks, holes in screens, under siding, etc.

One can prevent, not only stinkbugs from entering the house, but spiders and a variety of other insects as well, from entering the home by caulking every crack and cranny come spring and the end of summer.

P. S. Stinkbugs don’t bite humans . . . they just stink when threatened or squished!

Article by Donna Walker


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United States Department of Agriculture – ARS (Agricultural Research Service), Brown Marmolated Stink Bug.
Wikipedia. (2014). The Free Encyclopedia: Harmonia axyridis.
BIRC (Bio-Integral Resource Center). The IPM Practitioner. IPM for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. June 2014.
Wikipedia. (2014). The Free Encyclopedia: Halyomorpha halys.


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