Reports of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) continue to make headlines throughout Illinois. After the first confirmation of this invasive insect was reported in fall 2010 in Cook County, additional reports have continued in 2011 in northeastern Illinois as well as Kane, McLean and Champaign counties.
Kelly Estes, State Survey Coordinator for the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey, says it’s important to be on the lookout for this pest.
“Like many invasive species, BMSB has a long list of host plants, including many woody ornamental trees as well as several agricultural crops including fruit trees, grapes, tomatoes, corn, soybeansand others,” she says. “It is easily moved from location to location by humans such as hitchhiking on vehicles, movement of shipping materials and movement of plants.”
Unlike many insect pests that only attack plants during certain times of the growing season, the BMSB will feed on host plants all season long, Estes adds.
“This causes great concern in fruit crops where they begin feeding early in the season and continue through harvest,” she says. “Growers should monitor fruit for sunken areas where the insect has fed. These areas will be discolored. Corky areas will be present under the skin of the fruit. In corn and soybeans, BMSB feed on the developing pod or corn ear. They are able to feed through the husks and pods with their sucking mouthparts, causing the kernels and beans to shrivel. In tomatoes and peppers, feeding will also result in corky areas and discoloration, much like injury in fruit.”
In addition, Estes says BMSB is also considered a nuisance pest to homeowners. Much like boxelder bugs or multi-colored Asian lady beetles, these stink bugs congregate on houses in late fall and move indoors. Homeowners are likely to see new infestations as these insects will initially feed on common landscape ornamentals.
“Adult BMSB can be identified by the typical ‘shield’ shaped body of all sti
nk bugs,” she said. “In reference to their name, they have a marmorated or mottled brown color. Their antennae have distinct white bands; on the edge of their abdomen they have alternating black and white bands. The underside of the abdomen is white and the leg
s may also have faint white banding.”
The Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey is interested in dete
rmining the distribution of these insects in Illinois. If you believe you have a suspect specimen, send the actual specimen to Kelly Estes at 1816 S. Oak St., Champaign, IL 61820. Place stink bugs in a crush-proof container (pill bottle, check box, etc). Photos may also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org preliminary screening.
For more information about BMSB, read the April 21 edition of The Bulletin.
(Image courtesy of David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org; used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License)