-This article is written to put the spotlight on an invasive pest, during National Invasive Species Awareness Week-
Brown marmorated stink bugs are a pest on the go! They have been in the United States since 1998 and have been detected in 44 states. Here in Nebraska, we have been seeing this pest appear since 2012 and more and more people are bringing it to extension offices and asking questions. In order to best manage BMSB, you should understand some basic facts about this speckled pest!
How do you identify it? Brown marmorated stink bugs are part of an order of insects known as the true bugs. All true bugs have needle-like mouthparts on their head and they uses these to siphon out fluids for food. BMSB is also closely related to other, native stink bugs and shares a similar shield-like shape with them. Overall, BMSB is a little over ½ an inch in length and, as the name implies, they are brown in coloration. Marmorated means that are sort of marbled or spotted in appearance. To tell the difference between our native brown stink bugs and the invasive BMSB, you should flip them over and look at their “belly”. BMSB has a grey, spotted underside while the native brown stink bug has a lime-green underside.
Where is BMSB from? This stink bug is actually native to Asia, ranging between China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. In these nations it is considered a pest, but is of far less significance than it is here in the US. As with most invasive species, the brown marmorated stink bug has greatly benefited from a lack of diseases and predators to control it here in the US. The first find of BMSB in the US was in Pennsylvania in 1998. Since then, this insect has spread to 44 other states including Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado.
What are the issues with this pest? BMSB feeds on lots of different plants, including common garden crops such as tomatoes and peppers, tree fruits like apples and peaches, and small fruit crops like grapes and raspberries. BMSB can damage fruits and leaves on plants when it pokes its needle-like mouth into the plant’s surfaces. This injects saliva and also removes plant juices, inducing stippling damage on leaves and necrotic spots on fruits. The issue that bothers most people though, is an annual fall invasion of their home by the stink bug. Overwintering stink bugs are looking for protected spots to hide out from the cold and our homes offer a multitude of safe crevices to hide in. While they won’t breed in the home or damage the structure they are annoying and smelly (which may or may not remind you of certain relatives).
How to prevent in the home? First and foremost you must seal up entry points into your home. If there are no easy routes inside, the insects can’t become a nuisance. Check for cracks around windows, doors, pipes, and chimneys and seal openings with silicone or silicone-latex caulk. It is also advisable to check screens on doors and windows for holes and to repair trouble spots or replace the entire screen. Insecticides can provide some protection if applied at the correct time of year, contact a pest control professional for help. If stink bugs are found inside, simply vacuum living specimens up and dispose of them outside. Do not use insecticide foggers as they provide little control over this pest.
If you grow any of the crops susceptible to this pest, you should consult the national BMSB website (http://www.stopbmsb.org/managing-bmsb/) for crop specific advice on managing this pest.