Pest Alert: Brown marmorated stink bug

— Written By
Image of a stink bug

image by Steve School

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB, Halyomorpha halys) is an invasive insect native to eastern Asia that entered the U.S. around the mid-1990s. The BMSB is known to feed on over 100 host plants, including tree fruits, vegetables, and row crops. These insects are not harmful to people; they do not bite, sting, or bore into structures.

Once the BMSB emerges in the spring, it goes through three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. As temperatures decrease in fall and day length shortens, the BMSB enters diapause. During this time, they begin to conserve energy and look for a place to spend the winter.

Stink bugs have a hard exoskeleton making it difficult to control this pest chemically. Plants can tolerate some damage from pests, and using nonchemical methods may be a better option for managing the BMSB. Because BMSBs are attracted to lights, turning off unnecessary lights or lights around the entrance of your home can deter them from entering. Additionally, exclude them from entering the home by checking for cracks around doors and windows, air conditioners, exhaust fans, and other openings. Seal any cracks. If the BMSB has become a pest in your late summer or fall garden, you can exclude them by using a lightweight row cover over your vegetables during their peak feeding times. It is important to note that row covers left on for extended periods of time do need to be removed periodically to allow for pollination to occur. Adult BMSBs are good candidates for hand removal, which includes the removal of its egg masses from the undersides of leaves and placing the insects into a bucket containing an inch of soapy water. When you remove BMSB’s from plants, they are likely to emit a foul odor. So protect your hands by wearing gloves.
— Amy Ballard

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