Have you spotted any "Stinky" bug invaders?
A new potential home invader looking for a spot to overwinter in Illinois homes this year is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) which has spread to many counties in Illinois. They are a nuisance because they do what stink bugs do best – stink, but only when threatened. This invasive insect was first identified in 1998 in Pennsylvania and is considered a stowaway from Asia. BMSBs have a large host range feeding on the landscape, native and agriculturally important produce. They were originally reported in Illinois in 2009.
According to a study by a University of Maryland entomologist, adults have a strong preference for ripe fruit, leaving the nymphs to eat other plant material. This has caused many growers on the East Coast, where the population has skyrocketed, to forfeit efforts to be organic and start using chemicals. Traps have also been developed using an aggregation pheromone. The BMSB has piercing mouthparts and is capable of damaging a multitude of crops from apples to pears to soybeans and landscape ornamentals. University of Illinois Extension Entomologist, Mike Gray, has said, "BMSB are capable of causing economic losses to soybean and corn producers."
The BMSB body has the shield-shape characteristic to stink bugs and it is as wide as it is long. The three most identifying characteristics are its black and white banding on the antennae, the alternating dark/light banding on the edge of the wings and the smooth shoulders. They are capable of aggregating in manmade structures and recent USDA studies show they prefer large dead trees that are still standing in the forest, like oak or hickory. They can withstand temperatures to zero Fahrenheit. In April after hibernating, the adult lays 20-30 eggs with nymphs emerging shortly after. There can be multiple generations per year depending on seasonal temperatures.
To control BMSB in the home:
1. Use a vacuum to suck up adults or drop them in soapy water.
2. Take steps in early fall to caulk cracks and crevices around the house.
3. Prevent movement in from the outside by repairing windows and putting on door sweeps.
4. It is not recommended to use sprays in the home because insecticide residues are relatively ineffective in providing control.
Photo: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
For more information on this pest, please contact the local University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educators. The Master Gardener help desk at the Cook County Farm Bureau is scheduled to open Mondays and Thursdays from 9am-1pm on Monday, April 15 through November 15, 2019. Call 708-354-3276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Kay Shipman, Farmweek and Kelly Allsup, Extension Educator, Horticulture