Controlling the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

— Written By Taylor Campbell and last updated by
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The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), scientifically known as Halyomorpha halys, is an invasive pest causing significant damage to various crops, making it a concern for farmers and homeowners alike. Originally from East Asia, it was unintentionally introduced to eastern Pennsylvania in 1998 and has since spread extensively across North America. Identified by its shield-shaped body and brown coloring, BMSB becomes a nuisance during fall, seeking shelter in homes, leading to large indoor infestations.

Description and Life Cycle:

Adult BMSBs are approximately 17 mm long, displaying shades of brown on both upper and lower body surfaces. Notably, they emit a distinct odor from scent glands, characteristic of stink bugs. The eggs, elliptical in shape and attached to the underside of leaves, hatch into nymphs that undergo five instars before reaching adulthood. With a probable single generation per year, BMSBs emerge in spring, mate, and deposit eggs until late summer. They then search for overwintering sites in fall and winter.

Agricultural and Structural Damage:

BMSBs pose a threat to a wide range of crops, including fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants. Feeding on fruits like apples results in distortion, making them unsuitable for market. Their impact extends to beans, corn, tomatoes, soybeans, and other crops, causing scarred and deformed produce. Additionally, BMSBs can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals due to their defensive chemicals, and crushing them against the skin may cause dermatitis in a small percentage of the population. While they don’t reproduce or cause structural damage indoors, their presence can lead to unpleasant odors if crushed.

Management Strategies:

Preventing BMSBs from entering structures is crucial, and mechanical exclusion through sealing cracks and openings is the primary method. Stink bugs will emerge from cracks under or behind baseboards, around window and door trim, and around exhaust fans or lights in ceilings. Insecticides can be applied externally by licensed professionals, but their efficacy diminishes over time. Once inside, locating entry points and sealing them is recommended. Vacuuming live and dead stink bugs is a practical indoor management strategy. Another method involves knocking stink bugs into a cup of soapy water, or flushing them down the toilet. Aerosol-type pyrethrum foggers will kill stink bugs that have amassed on ceilings and walls in living areas. Using insecticides indoors is not advisable as it may lead to undesirable consequences such as carpet beetle infestations. It’s important to exercise caution when using pesticides, following safety instructions diligently, and considering alternative methods for long-term management.

In conclusion, addressing the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug requires a combination of preventive measures, careful monitoring, and strategic management to mitigate the economic and household impact of this invasive pest.