South Carolina residents are being asked to help track down a new stinkbug that has Clemson University plant-pest experts concerned.

The public is encouraged to take samples to their county Extension Service offices. Unlike the stinkbugs that are native to the state, the new invader has a black and white checkerboard border along its wings. It has been identified in four counties this year.

“In the past few weeks there have been six captures of positively identified brown marmorated stinkbugs in the state,” said Sherry Aultman, the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey coordinator who is with Clemson's plant industry department. “This is not a regulated pest, but it is new to South Carolina and can be a harmful pest to fruit trees, especially peaches and apples, and it also feeds on soybeans, corn and other hosts. We need to track it and look for ways to deal with it.”

Officials are preparing material for distribution to the county Extension offices with descriptive information and identification aids. There also is a Web page where the public can get general information about the pest and a map to track its establishment in the state.

Native to Asia, the brown marmorated stinkbug first was identified in the United States in 1998 in Pennsylvania, and it now has spread to at least 35 states. There are no state or federal regulations for this pest because there are no practical means for eradication or to prevent its movement to uninfested areas.

Clemson is headquarters for the state’s official plant pest regulatory agency. The agency monitors and reports the movement of such pests in the state to alert growers to the threats. The Clemson Department of Pesticide Regulation is cooperating with Extension and experiment station entomologists to prepare a request for EPA to allow use of an insecticide not currently approved for this insect on fruit trees.