Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
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Chances are over the last few years your home has been invaded by the smelly, brown, shield shaped bugs pictured below:
This unwelcome guest, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), or “stink bug” as they’re commonly known, seem particularly adept at finding any and every entry into warm homes as the colder weather sets in. H. halys was introduced to North America from Asia in the late 1990’s. Without their natural predators, stink bug populations have exploded causing them to become both an agricultural and residential pest.
The life cycle of H. Halys lasts one year and is comprised of six stages in the Northern United States. However, up to five generations occur each year in their native Southern China, and the same is likely in the U.S. as they move further South to warmer climates. Stink bug eggs are laid in clusters of around 25 eggs on the underside of leaves. They then go through four instars before reaching maturity (the adult phase). Adults seek shelter from colder temperatures during winter, which is when they generally begin entering homes and other buildings.
Unfortunately, the brown marmorated stink bug is more than just a smelly nuisance. This invasive species is actually quite destructive, and can wreak havoc on a wide variety of crops and ornamentals. Fruit trees are particularly susceptible, but other affected plants include: butterfly-bush (Buddleia spp.), mulberry (Morus sp.), soybean (Glycine max) and flowers of hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). Stink bugs pose another vineyard specific problem, as they can easily be accidentally harvested along with clusters causing stink bug infused wine!
So what can be done to stop invasion of our homes and destruction of our food and drink? Stink bugs do have natural predators, including a scelionid wasp native to China, Trissolcus halyomorphae. These parasitic wasps are known to be effective in controlling H. halys populations and are currently being researched in the U.S. However, there are drawbacks to introducing yet another new species to tackle the invasive stink bugs. Negative side effects of introducing these non-native species could include harm to other, non-targeted insects and competition with native parasitic wasp species. Praying mantis, a native species, do eat stink bugs and are another option for natural, biological control. For additional information on the biological control praying mantis provide, as well as product and ordering information please click here. There are also chemical controls which can be useful in controlling this particular pest. Pyrethroids provide fairly effective, though short term, control of H. halys, but unfortunately bring their own set of secondary pest problems including mites (in orchards) and mealybugs (in vineyards). Some neonicotinoids such as clothianidin have shown to be effective in the short term, though control studies are still underway as H. halys is a relatively new pest. As with any species, the stink bug will eventually build a resistance to any chemical control. Lastly, mechanical exclusion is an effective method of controlling the amount of pests that make it into your home. Stink bugs generally enter dwellings through small holes or cracks in and around windows, so securing these areas with quality silicone or silicone latex caulk can significantly reduce populations indoors. Also be sure to repair or replace any damaged screens on doors or windows.
As we continue to learn more about the brown marmorated stink bug, it is likely additional controls will become available. Until then, BioLogic’s littlest dog Pogo is happy to hunt down and pounce upon any Halyomorpha halys that make it into our home!