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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Posted by John Fulton -

According to Kelly Estes, University of Illinois Entomologist, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has been making headlines in Illinois the past couple of weeks. After the first confirmation of this invasive insect was reported in the fall of 2010 in Cook County, additional reports have been received from Kane County, McLean County, and Champaign Counties in 2011.

Like many invasive species, BMSB has a long list of host plants, including many woody ornamental trees as well as several agricultural crops including fruit trees, grapes, tomatoes, corn, soybeans and others. Also, like many other invasive insects, it is easily moved from location to location by humans (hitchhiking on vehicles, movement of shipping materials, and movement of plants). In addition to feeding on plants, BMSB is also considered a nuisance pest to homeowners. Much like boxelder bugs or multi-colored Asian lady beetles, these stink bugs congregate on houses in late fall and move indoors. Homeowners are likely to first spot new infestations as these insects will initially feed on common landscape ornamentals.

Unlike many insect pests that only attack plants during certain times of the growing season, the BMSB will feed on host plants all season long. This causes great concern in fruit crops where they begin feeding early in the season and continue through harvest. Growers should monitor fruit for sunken areas where the insect has fed. These areas will be discolored and corky areas will be present under the skin of the fruit. In corn and soybean, BMSB feed on the developing pod or corn ear. They are able to feed through the husks and pods with their sucking mouthparts, causing shriveled kernels and beans, respectively. In tomatoes and peppers, feeding will also result in corky areas and discoloration, much like injury in fruit.

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