By Stephanie Hughes
OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer
Yes, the invasion is coming. In fact, it is already here for many residents in the Valley.
In the fall — September through October — the invasion of brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) takes place. This non-native, highly invasive pest was first detected in Allentown, Pa., in 1998, where it arrived from Japan, China, South Korea or Taiwan. Since then, its range has expanded north and west in the U.S. and is expected to keep moving.
The BMSB (halymorpha halys) is a member of the stink-bug family and is a true bug. It preys on fruits and vegetables and agricultural crops as well as ornamental shrubs and trees.
In fact, we have traps here in Mahoning County at some of our local farms to count the number of bugs present and to test the best ways of trapping the insect. The traps use a pheromone to trap unsuspecting bugs. The BMSB can severely damage many of our crops.
The BMSB are about 1 inch long, with a shield shaped body and light bands on the antennae and legs, as well as “dotting” bands around the edge of the shield. Their eyes are red. They smell when they are alarmed or smashed from scent glands underneath the thorax.
Eggs range from yellow to green to reddish, laid in lines under leaves in masses of 20 to 30 from June to August. A single female can lay up to 400 eggs in a season, with eggs hatching in just three to seven days. The nymphs have instar stages of development with color from reddish with black legs, head, and thorax, to the adult brown.
Fruits damaged by the bug are apples, pears, peaches, citrus and figs, as well as ornamental shrubs and trees, beans, blackberries, corn, soybeans, tomatoes, green peppers, to mention a few.
Adults emerge in spring — late April to mid-May, mate and lay eggs from May to August. Small black and red nymphs emerge and go through five molts to adulthood.
Adults search out sites to overwinter, beginning in October, depending on temperatures.
Homeowners are alarmed at the masses of bugs that migrate into their homes. They will not reproduce in homes, nor do they cause damage. If vacuumed up, they emit a smell that is characteristic – the “stink” odor.
To prevent invasion, seal cracks around windows, door jambs, pipes, chimneys, baseboards and any opening into the home that allows entrance.
Insecticides are useless and should not be considered. Manual vacuuming or sweeping is recommended, and throw away the bag to destroy that generation (and the smell).
“Bug proofing” your home can also prevent mass invasions of Asian lady bird beetles (another stinker) and boxelder bugs that also migrate in search of overwintering sites.
For more about the brown marmorated stink bug, and the major damage it can do to your fruits and vegetables, visit http://go.osu.edu/stinkbug.