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Prepare for stink bug invasion

A pressing concern for farmers in the Yakima Valley is the return of the Asian brown marmorated stink bug. The bugs, which were accidentally introduced into the United States from Asia in the 1990s, are a major agricultural pest. They are sucking insects that use a proboscis to pierce a fruit in order to feed. The feeding results in necrotic areas on the surface of the fruit and browned areas inside that make the fruit unmarketable. The bugs are known to eat a variety of crops, including apples, grapes, blackberries, sweet corn, field corn, soybeans, tomatoes, lima beans and green peppers, as well as many ornamental plants. In areas where the bug has established itself, farmers have seen major losses due to damage to their crops. The bugs also go into hibernation in the autumn, and will often enter homes through cracks or other openings. Sometimes the bugs will aggregate in masses on the sides of buildings, causing problems for homeowners. If disturbed, the bugs will release the scent that gives them their name. The brown marmorated stink bug can be distinguished from native stink bugs by a white band around its antennae and black and white banded abdominal segments that protrude from beneath the wings. The bug has the shield shape characteristic of all stink bugs. Its underside is white, sometimes with gray or black markings, and the legs are brown with faint white banding. The bug lays between 20 and 30 eggs in a mass. The elliptical eggs are usually light green or yellow in color and laid on the underside of leaves. For more information on the threat to agriculture and the latest updates on methods of fighting the brown marmorated stink bug, visit http://www.stopbmsb.org.

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