Monday, March 9, 2015

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

  Marmorated stink bug - by Yerpo
Update January 28, 2015-First marmorated stink bug reported in SW Missouri. 

A few years ago we wrote about the marmorated stink bug, a new invasive species which was moving across the US, creating significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops.  At that time it was in 33 states but hadn't reached us.  The wait is now over.
 "First Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Southwest Missouri Discovered in Greene County Springfield, Mo. - University of Missouri Extension Horticulturists Kelly McGowan and Patrick Byers say the first reported Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in southwest Missouri has been confirmed and area farmers and homeowners should be aware. "
from Wikimedia
The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, is another native of Asia and was first found in the US in 1998.   It is an omniverous agricultural pest, eating everything from fruit on trees to vegetables.  It pierces the skin of the fruit to suck out juices, leaving a discolored spot which renders the product unsalable.  In 2010 alone it wiped out 18 percent of the Mid-Atlantic apple crop. It also attacks peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus fruits and persimmons, as well as sweet and field corn, tomatoes, lima beans and green peppers.

There are several reasons that they are spreading so fast.  They generally have one to two hatches a year, but can increase that to more in warm southern climates.  They have been reproducing faster in the unseasonably warm weather of the last few years.  They also are living longer, therefore depositing more eggs in their lifespan and producing more generations to lay even more eggs.

Brown marmorated stink bugs hatching
The brown marmorated stink bug is far more likely to invade your home than other stink bugs.  They tend to hibernate inside over the winter but may awaken in the warmth and crawl out and about.  It becomes a greater pest when it extrudes its stink through holes in its abdomen.  This is a defense mechanism against predators but can be triggered by simply handling it. 

So what is the big stink about?  It produces a chemical from glands on its abdomen that is said to smell like cilantro.  Now this is a vegetable that may be even more controversial than President Bush's broccoli.  What other food has a web page like I hate cilantro.com, with 3,300 active members obsessed with eliminating cilantro from all food dishes?  Now if we could just get their members out in the apple orchards to attack stink bugs....

Diagnostic features - idtools.org
There are many native stink bugs in the family Pentatomidaev which you can identify at bugguide.net.  None of these are as prolific or economically threatening as this Asian pest.  According to Wikipedia "the best identification for adults is the white band on the antennae. It is similar in appearance to some other native species except that several of the abdominal segments protrude from beneath the wings and are alternatively banded with black and white (visible along the edge of the bug even when wings are folded) and a white stripe or band on the next to last (4th) antennal segment."

Details at Penn State Entomology.

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