UMD Researchers Plan Strategic Defense Against the Invasive Stink Bug

UMD Researchers Plan Strategic Defense Against the Invasive Stink Bug

Researchers from the University of Maryland from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) and College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (CMNS) are collaborating with colleagues from 10 other institutions across the U.S. to plan a strategic defense against the invasive and destructive stink bug. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the project’s goal is to study and monitor the insect and its natural enemies from all angles in order to develop a strategy to minimize its impact on crops and farmers’ livelihoods. This research initiative will continue for at least another year.

Prof. Cerruti Hooks is a lead researcher involved with the initiative.

The stink bug was accidentally brought from Asia to North America in the late 1990’s, where it has almost no predators. The brown marmorated stink bug, known as the BMSB, caused a catastrophic loss of crops throughout most Mid-Atlantic States in 2010. There are expected to be major stink bug infestations every 3 years. Although the insect doesn’t bite humans, it lays hundreds of eggs during its lifetime and is particularly dangerous because of the fact that it will feed on almost anything. The invader caused the most significant damage in 2010, with some growers of sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, apples, and peaches reporting total crop losses that year, with organic growers among the hardest hit.

The number of reported stink bugs in Maryland has been lower in 2011 and 2012 so far, but some western areas of the state and Howard County still face heavy volumes. There may be a spike in the fall due to a last feeding during the fall harvest. Homeowners should also expect these insects to try to enter households, seeking shelter from the cold.

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September 18, 2012

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