As to whether these newer stink bugs have developed resistance to commonly used insecticides, Herbert says, “This pest is so new we do not have a lot of information about what insecticides might work best for control. Studies are under way in many states and what we are hearing is not encouraging, that many of the standard stink bug control products may not be working very well.”

“So far, in Virginia, the brown marmorated stink bug has been primarily a problem in vegetable gardens attacking sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and squash and is also causing havoc in apples, peaches, berry crops and grapes. Of course, we are getting many, many calls from homeowners from across much of the state as these critters move into buildings to over-winter.”

Herbert says, “This bug can be devastating to many crops (apples, peaches, berries, grapes, tomato, pepper, corn--and much more).”  

“We were able to secure funding this year to conduct a statewide survey of soybean fields (soybean is a host crop for this bug in China) and we found it in soybeans in about a dozen counties…first time ever,” Herbert adds.

Of particular concern to the veteran Virginia Tech entomologist are reports (and some pictures) that indicate high thresholds of the new stink bug on okra. Okra is close kin to cotton, and if these reports are accurate, cotton in the upper Southeast could be at risk in coming years.

“These stink bug species, unlike any others with which I am familiar, aggregate in large numbers in over-wintering sites, similar to the lady beetle some years ago.  

If these stink bugs are found in crops, growers should notify their local county Extension office. “Information on new infestations will help us understand how this pest is advancing and what crops may be at risk. Right now, we still have a lot of unknowns, but rest assured, this pest has our attention and a lot of resources will be directed to trying to figure out how best to manage it,” Herbert concludes.

Whether or not the brown marmorated stink bug is a sinister terrorist plot or just another troublesome insect species that has shown up in North America, the bottom-line is it needs to be managed.

Farmers and homeowners alike should contact their county Extension office, if they suspect the little varmints have shown up on their farm or in their home, then let the experts take it from there.

rroberson@farmpress.com