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Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

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August 20, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about the brown marmorated stink bug. Hello. I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Blake Layton, a Mississippi State University Extension entomologist.

Dr. Layton, the brown marmorated stink bug. Where did it come from?

Blake Layton: This is one of those non-native insects. This one has been here about 20 years, now. It first showed up around 1998 in Pennsylvania, so it's gradually expanding its range. They came in, like many of the things that we get these days, they came in from Asia, either China or Japan.

Amy Myers: What problems has it caused in other areas of the country?

Blake Layton: Up in the northeast, it's causing problems in row crops, also in fruit. It caused a lot of devastation to apples and peaches up in that area of the country, until growers learned that they had to do things special to control the brown marmorated stink bug that they didn't have to do for their normal apple pests. And so, now I think they've got a handle on that, but it caused a lot of damage there early on and still it causes a lot of insecticide sprays, and management intensity, and things like that.

The other big problem that it causes is that in the fall, these things want to come in buildings, and they do so in sometimes the thousands. I've read records of where they counted them. Well, there were 26,000 stink bugs found in this house. I've seen videos of people sweeping them out of their house into a five-gallon bucket, and you could tell from the outline on the bucket it was half full.

Amy Myers: Oh, that does not sound like any fun.

Blake Layton: They have a really bad odor, too. Kind of an overwhelming odor if you're exposed to it for very long.

Amy Myers: Has it ever been found in Mississippi before this year?

Blake Layton: That's the kind of perplexing thing. For many years now, we've seen it in Mississippi. It travels very easily. They are attracted to things like semi-trucks, and campers, and vans, and railroad cars, and things like that. So, for many years we've had them showing up in the state in the fall.

But it was always obvious that, hey, they probably rode in here on one of those things. They never seemed to become established to breed in the state through the summer and then invade buildings in the fall, like we would hear about in the northeast. Until this year.

Amy Myers: What makes it different from the many other native species of stink bugs that we do have in the state?

Blake Layton: We do have a lot of other stink bugs, some that look a lot like brown marmorated stink bug. When I first heard about this thing, I thought, well, it's not going to be that much of a big deal because we have so many stink bugs already. It'll just be another stink bug, we'll control it the same way.

But the issue about it occurring on fruit, so people that are growing apples, pears, peaches, small fruit, it can become a really significant pest for them, one that they've never seen before and never had to deal with. And also, this issue about home invasions, which we saw just a little bit of in Mississippi, and that can be a real issue for homeowners and business owners.

Amy Myers: Okay, so the difference is that the marmorated stink bug gets into fruit, and damages fruit and homes, as well. What can be done to control it when it's found invading homes and other buildings?

Blake Layton: For home invasion, the best offense is a good defense, and we do what I call proactive exclusion. Just make sure that house or building is bug-tight before that fall of the year when the insects start moving inside.

Amy Myers: So, keep any openings or any cracks in your house, and the foundation or in the walls, in the roofs, any kind of like small spaces they can get into, keep them closed up.

Blake Layton: That's right. Make them bug-tight, ideally before the insects have moved in. So, this is thinking forward, you know? We've just seen a few incidents this year, but we're concerned it may increase.

Amy Myers: What does this mean for the future, here in Mississippi?

Blake Layton: Now that's a big question, because I just mentioned that so far they haven't shown the ability to reproduce well in Mississippi. This year, based on two incidents we saw in the Tupelo area, it was really obvious. They reproduced, probably, in soy bean fields, and then moved in. So, if they become established and continue to increase, then we may see the kinds of populations they see up in the northeast. But we just are waiting to see how that's going to play out.

Amy Myers: But if you want to kill them, you have to use an insecticide?

Blake Layton: Once they get inside, insecticides aren't really that useful. That's not what we recommend. The best thing you can do, then, once you've got some inside, is use a vacuum. Vacuum them up and get them outside. That odor in that canister is going to be bad, but you just have to deal with that.

There are insecticide treatments that can be applied to the outside of the building, if you have stink bugs accumulating on the outside, that will kill those stink bugs and give you some residual control to kill stink bugs that accumulate there. So, that is where insecticides have a role, is on the exterior of the building.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Dr. Blake Layton, entomologist. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology

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