The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has caused millions of dollars of damage to crops in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. One of these insects, which are prone to hitchhiking, was found at a rest stop on I-70, west of Kansas City, Kan. They have a confirmed presence in 33 states and are causing severe damage in five states. It was apparently accidentally introduced in eastern Pennsylvania and was first collected there in 1998.
Its wide host range, including fruiting vegetables, fruit, soybeans and corn, along with its tendency to congregate in homes during the winter, make it a formidable problem. In the areas where it has become a pest, producers are spraying insecticides more frequently and still are sustaining damage. Insecticides that control our native stink bugs often are not effective against the BMSB. Homeowners may be invaded by thousands of the smelly insects in the fall as they seek overwintering spots.
Researchers are working to find effective pesticide controls as well as long-term biological controls such as natural parasites. They are also developing monitoring traps and charting BMSB’s spread across the United States. The adults are just under ¾ inch long. They differ from our native brown stink bugs in that they have lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the membranous, overlapping part at the rear of the front wings. Those in Missouri finding these insects, are asked to contact their local University of Missouri Extension Center.