Little Stinker

The stink bug has moved in, and it’s in no hurry to leave.

     Forget the Year of the Snake, 2013 is the year of the brown marmorated stink bug. If you haven’t heard, the odiferous critters, which were first detected in the U.S. in 2001, are predicted to make an appearance this spring and summer in record numbers.

     “All indications from the fall of 2012 are that the size of the over-wintering population of the brown marmorated stink bug is bigger than last year,” says Chris Bergh, professor of entomology at Virginia Tech and one of five from VT working on a team of more than 50 researchers from around the U.S. to find solutions to the proliferation of the invasive pest. Established in 2010, the group, funded through the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative, has set up its own website—StopBMSB.org—to educate the public about the insect named by the USDA in January as its top “invasive insect of interest.”

     While a nuisance for most, the stink bug, which is originally from Asia, is a serious threat to farmers because it feeds on more than 300 varieties of crops—everything from berries and peppers to fruit trees and soybeans.  And, oh, how it loves the Old Dominion. Virginia is one of seven states in which the bug has caused severe agricultural and nuisance problems.

     Unfortunately, it’s too late to stop the stinkers from getting into your home this spring. “In the fall, they look for over-wintering sites, and they’ll go anywhere they perceive to be hospitable, including cars and even doorjambs,” explains Bergh. (Which means they’ve been with you all winter.) To prevent Stinkvasion 2014, seal up cracks and crevices to block access to your house. And what of their famous smell? “It’s a defensive secretion,” says Bergh. It’s like a Do Not Disturb sign for insects.


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