Stink bug numbers expected to be high in 2013
Marmorated stink bug pest feeds on fruit, vegetable and soybean crops
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Scientists worry that infestations will be high this year for the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species that was accidently introduced into the United States in 1998. The Asian agricultural pest poses a serious threat to fruit, vegetable and soybean crops causing widespread damage.
An extension entomologist at Virginia Tech said that the stink bug infestation may be high this year, noting that in 2012 the population was 60% higher than the year before and there will likely be an increase again in 2013.
Since last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been researching the stink bug, examining its DNA and behaviours. The agency discovered that a pheromone that male stink bugs give-off while feeding attracts the females to the meal location. Researchers were able to re-create the male’s scent, using it in a trap-like devise, which is to be tested along tree lines and in farmers’ fields. While the traps proved to be successful in killing the bugs, they haven’t been able to make a significant dent in the stink bug population.
In addition to the traps, entomologists have discovered a mitigation strategy for killing off the stink bug population that feed on soybeans. Scientists found that stink bugs tend to attack the edges of the field, rarely going deep in the middle. In the case for soybeans, spraying around the edges has proved to be an effective strategy. Additionally, more research is being conducted into possibly introducing an Asian wasp that will feed on stink bugs’ eggs, but many scientists are cautious about this approach noting that it may become another pests competing with native wasps.
Stink bugs currently have a presence in 33 states.