Extension Educator, Horticulture
December 16, 2012
Not all Stink bugs are created the same
URBANA - Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, states Illinoisans' need to take steps to prepare for the invasion of the brown marmorated stink bug. Brown marmorated stink bugs, Halyomorpha halys are on the 2012 Most "Unwanted" Invasive Pest list created by the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey Program. Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) have piercing mouthparts and are capable of damaging a multitude of crops from apples to pears to soybeans to landscape ornamentals.
University of Illinois Extension Entomologist Mike Gray has said, "BMSB are capable of causing economic losses to soybean and corn producers." However, Kelly Estes states, "The combination of lower populations of BMSB and highly managed crop systems in Illinois have kept detection and economic injury levels low." Recent tracking by USDA indicates BMSB has substantially spread in this last growing season probably due to the drought reducing mortality in the bugs from fungal diseases and the warmer weather causing faster development. The warm fall has allowed for two generations to be produced during one growing season, allowing for a greater number of overwintering insects.
In addition to causing crop damage, these invasive pests enter your homes during the winter seeking out shelter. This species of stink bug will attempt to enter via cracks and crevices to overwinter. "Most reports have come from urban areas in early spring and fall, generally from homeowners and master gardeners, says Kelly Estes. To control BMSB in the home, use a vacuum to suck up adults or take steps in early winter to caulk the house and prevent movement in from the outside. It is not recommended to use sprays in the home because insecticide residues are relatively ineffective in providing control.
BMSB has been identified in 38 states with Illinois being one of them. The state of Illinois is currently classified by USDA as being at low risk for the pest and large numbers have not been recorded. Horticulture Educator Kelly Allsup encourages homeowners and gardeners to be on the lookout for this invasive pest.
BMSB has the shield shape characteristic to stink bugs and it's as wide as it is long. The two most identifying characteristics are its black and white banding on the antennae and the alternating dark/ light banding on the edge of the wings. They are capable of aggregating in manmade structures and recent USDA studies shows they prefer large dead trees that are still standing in the forest-like oak or hickory on the East Coast. After overwintering in April, the adult lays 20-30 eggs with nymphs emerging shortly after. There can be multiple generations per year depending on seasonal temperatures.If you suspect you have BMSB, please bring the specimen to your local Extension office after placing it in a plastic bag or jar. Photo provided by Mike Jeffords.