Stink bugs shouldn’t pose problem until late summer

April 1, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Last fall, Stephanie Sturmfels battled stink bugs at her Pike Creek home and yard. “Stink bugs were on my deck, they were on my front porch, some were even in my house,” recalls the mother of two small children. “My four-year-old daughter, Madison, would go around and collect stink bugs in pieces of tissue.”

Now that spring has arrived, Sturmfels is worried that stink bugs may return in full force. So far, she has seen a few stink bugs but nothing like the invasion last September and October.

Brian Kunkel, a UD Cooperative Extension entomologist, has some good news for Sturmfels and anyone who despises the brown marmorated stink bug. “The adult stink bugs that were driving people crazy last fall will be giving birth this June and dying off soon afterwards. From now until then, they will be too busy feeding on plants in the landscape to spend much time around houses.”

“Their offspring — the nymphs — will spend most of the warm-weather months outside as they mature. They don’t feed in houses so you shouldn’t expect to see many on decks and patios or inside houses this summer,” adds Kunkel.

Best yet, nymph stink bugs can’t fly — they have wingbuds but not mature wings — so they can’t land in your hair, on your shoulders, or in a bowl of potato salad, the way those annoying adults were doing last autumn.

So rest easy and host a Memorial Day or Fourth of July cook-out, says Kunkel. You shouldn’t worry about scads of brown marmorated stink bugs crashing the party. However, when Labor Day rolls around, your guest list could unexpectedly rise.

“By late August, the nymphs have become adults and are able to fly,” says Kunkel. “What’s more, they start to congregate in houses, decks, garages and other warm spots during this time period. There is a lot that researchers don’t yet understand about the stink bug’s behavior but we do know that cooler temperatures at night motivate them to seek shelter.”

Twenty-six states now have populations of the non-native brown marmorated stink bug. If you have friends in other regions who shrug off stink bugs as a minor annoyance, you may have already guessed that Delaware has more of the critters than most places.

“This region is the epicenter of the stinkbug outbreak,” says Kunkel. Brown marmorated stink bug were first found in this country in Allentown, Pa. They arrived in 1998, as stowaways in packing crates from Asia, where they’re native. Here in the U.S., they have few natural predators. Some spiders, including arboreal spiders, feed on the brown marmorated stink bug.

“Don’t get rid of spiders in your yard and garden,” notes Kunkel. “Spiders are beneficial. In addition to stink bugs, they eat a wide variety of other pests.”

Keep in mind, though, that not all of Delaware’s stink bugs are bad guys; a native stink bug known as the spined soldier bug eats aphids and other pests. Delaware is home to three other native stink bugs: green, brown and dusty.

The brown marmorated stink bug has been more of a nuisance than a pest in the home landscape, thus far, but Delaware’s agricultural industry is monitoring the insect closely. This stink bug feeds on many plants, including lima beans and sweet corn, but is a particular threat to fruit-bearing trees.

“There are some orchards in other states that may go bankrupt this year because they had so much fruit damage from the brown marmorated stink bug last year,” says Kunkel.

He and other UD experts are launching several research projects aimed at protecting Delaware’s growers. One project will focus on when the stink bugs arrive in fields or at greenhouses, their life cycle, and the natural enemies (native parasitoids, predators) attacking this pest. Another project will evaluate the effectiveness of insecticides against the brown marmorated stink bug.

According to Kunkel, current insecticides provide little help in keeping this pest out of the house. Exclusion is the best approach. “Seal up every opening — caulk around windows, repair screens, install screens over your attic vents and replace any rotten wood on your house,” says Kunkel.

And take comfort in the fact that you won’t have stink bugs landing in your hair until later in the summer.

Article by Margo McDonough

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Battling Stink Bugs

September 24, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The University of Delaware has seen a recent increase in the number of phone calls regarding stink bugs infesting homes. Although stink bugs do find their way inside homes in the fall, looking for a warm place to spend the winter, they do not cause house hold damage, and are harmless to humans and animals.

Your best bet to keep the stink bugs out of your house? Caulk and seal windows, cracks, crevices, screens, and vents. Pesticides are rarely warranted; when applied, they seldom last more than a week to 10 days. The length of protection will vary because of the amount of rainfall received post-application.

Because stink bugs are primarily a threat to fruits and vegetables, stink bug research at UD is limited to that of an agricultural nature. In recent years, native stinkbugs have caused increased agricultural damage in Delaware.

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) (Halyomorpha halys), a nonnative stinkbug, has recently been spotted in Delaware. It is a relatively new pest in North America. Sometimes called the yellow-brown stink bug or the East Asian stink bug, it was first collected in the United States in Allentown, Pennsylvania during the fall of 1996.

UD entomologists in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources say that this insect was first reported to occur in northern New Castle County Delaware in 2001. In 2010, it was found at very low levels for the first time in soybean and lima bean fields in all three counties in Delaware.

Currently, the University of Delaware is a member of a BMSB Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Working Group funded by the USDA’s Northeast IPM Center. Members of this group include researchers, extension personnel, growers, pest control operators and a hotel manager.

At the first meeting in June, members shared research results, field observations and established research and extension priorities. This group hopes to secure funding for improving management of the important agricultural and urban pest.

Additional UD research will be scheduled for 2011 if BMSB populations increase in agricultural crops.

For more information about BMSB, please refer to information from universities found at the following websites:

Penn State University

Rutgers University

University of Maryland

Ohio State University (PDF)

You can also view this article on UDaily by clicking here.

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