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What the Heck is a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug?

By Chris Williams on February 24, 2011.

Q. What are Brown Marmorated Stink Bug?

A. Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is yet another invasive insect species from Asia that is beginning to have a serious economic impact on producers of many different crops in states where it has become well established. It its thought to have arrived in the US in shipping crates. Although adult bugs can fly, it’s an efficient hitchhiker and migration to other states may have been aided through transportation of infested cargo.

BMSB (Halyomorpha halys) is found throughout most of Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, etc.) where it is an important agricultural pest. It was first identified in Allentown, Pennsylvania during the late 1990s’, and as of this past fall (2010) has been found all over the state. Peach and apple growers have reported serious economic damage to their crops due to the feeding injury caused by these bugs. Stink bugs have piercing mouthparts that they use to puncture the skin of developing fruit, and the saliva they inject while feeding causes scarring which can reduce the crop’s fresh market value by over 50 percent! Growers of sweet corn, blackberries, soybeans and other field crops in PA have also reported problems with BMSB. Where BMSB has become established in neighboring states, it’s status as a serious pest is ascending as growers there have reported it damaging tomatoes, beans, and peppers. So far, the brown marmorated stink bug has been recorded in twenty-three states (including most all of New England) plus the District of Columbia. It gained some attention this past fall as large numbers of them were reported to be invading homes from surrounding orchards and other farmland in the suburban areas surrounding Washington DC.

brown-marmorated-stinkbug

Although BMSB has been recorded in New England, it is not considered to be ‘established’ yet in MA. (By established I mean there have not been enough incident reports of crop damage or fall invasions of homes yet to be considered a problem.) I’ve yet to see them in NH, but I’ll be giving and extra ‘look’ at the creatures descending upon homes later this fall to see if I can spot any. Brown marmorated stink bug is distinctly different in appearance from the now common fall invader, the western conifer seed bug. With no natural enemies to keep them in check, brown marmorated stink bug will very likely be here to stay in New England very soon. If you are a resident of Massachusetts and would like to help the state track invasive pest species, please visit http://www.massnrc.org/pests/index.htm

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