Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Landscape - Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

The brown marmorated stink bug, Halymorpha halys, [BMSB] has vastly expanded its impact as a nuisance pest in our area this year. Fortunately, it hasn't been a problem downstate. The following is more information.

First discovered in Allentown, PA in 1996, this insect has now spread its range to 25 States From the West Coast North to Wyoming, South to Mississippi and along the Eastern seaboard. It has a typical stink bug shape with a mottled brown color and does emit a pungent odor when crushed. Light brown-black nymphs hatch from light-green eggs and progress to the adult stage within several weeks. There was one generation per year reported in PA, but more are likely in areas with warmer weather. The ¾” long adult is generally the most visible life stage and it has been seemingly encountered everywhere this fall. Like other stink bugs, it feeds by inserting its sucking mouthparts into leaves and fruit of desired plants. Fruit distortion from stinkbug feeding can be referred to as “Cat-Facing”. Hundreds of hosts have been identified and there is concern that BMSB will become an agricultural pest of fruit trees and ornamentals where it becomes established. It feeds on Paulownia, apples, cherries, peaches, mulberry, soybeans, persimmons, etc. The good news is that BMSB does not appear to yet have damaging economic impact on ag crops and ornamentals. While abundant, its main impact is as a nuisance pest. Therefore, control methods should be primarily directed at monitoring for desired plants that are heavily damaged and refraining from treating unnecessarily. While an inconvenience, this pest does not yet warrant control in our area. For nuisance infestations indoors, one may choose to simply vacuum them up and or otherwise dispose of them. Restricting BMSB entry by caulking/sealing exterior gaps also helps to keep them out. Pesticide applications to exterior structural surfaces would only be warranted as a last resort in extreme circumstances. Educating others to do the same with this nuisance invader is also an important strategy.

Brown marmorated stink bug adult. Photo by Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org

Information from Casey Sclar, IPM Coordinator, Longwood Gardens

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