October 13, 2022 - 9:06am -- bobb.37@osu.edu

Agriculture Highlights

Stink bug


What’s all the ‘stink’ about?

This time of year, we often see uninvited guests crawling in our homes.  While the colorful Lady Beetles seem to have decreased in numbers over the years, there is still a persistent pest that shares the same nuisance. 

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys) has been spotted in virtually all parts of Ohio since first spotted in Franklin County in 2007.  It was introduced to the United States back in 2001 by accident from its native habitat in Japan, Korea, and China.  It is much like most other 5,000 species of stink bugs with some subtle differences. 

In appearance, the “marmorated” name gets its origin from the marble-like brown and grey markings on the insect.  The adults are about the size of a human thumb nail and can best be singled out from other stink bugs by the alternating light and dark bands on their antennae.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug spends its winter as an adult in sheltered places such as buildings or woodpiles.  They emerge in early May, feed for a couple weeks, mate, then females begin to lay eggs.  Up to 400 eggs may be laid by a single female.  These are typically located on the underside of leaves and will hatch 4 to 7 days later.

When temperatures start to fall in Autumn, the adults seek shelter.  This is often homes and other buildings.  They do not bite but do have other less desirable traits.  When disturbed or crushed, the rationale behind their name is immediately apparent.  Stink bugs will release very strong odor that is offensive to most people.  Aside from eliminating entry points with caulk or other barriers, the best way to deal with these pests is to vacuum them up and dispose in a sealed container.  These bugs are not unlike most other bugs and are attracted to light.  If you shut off all lights in a room and turn on just one, you should be able to capture without much effort. 

Creating indoor nuisance and odors are not the only concern of this specie of stink bug.  Like others, they feed on fruits, vegetables, agronomic crops, and ornamentals.  Stink bugs are “true bugs” which means they have a piercing/sucking mouthpart.  The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug has a longer “beak” than other stink bugs and can penetrate further into its food source, even through tree bark. 

In large numbers, these bugs may cause economic losses to crops of sweet corn, tomatoes, apples, peaches, soybeans, and green beans.    In soybeans, this specie as well as other stink bug species use their mouth parts to penetrate the pod and feed on the seeds.  This is most common on field edges and causes “stay green” syndrome which means crop maturation and leaf drop is delayed because of the stink bugs feeding.

Once projected economic loss justifies action, pyrethroid and neonicotinoid insecticides have demonstrated effectiveness.  Caution must be used as these are also harmful to non-target organisms.  Other tactics such as traps or covers are also showing promise depending on the crop and the feasibility. 

For more information, please call Wayne Dellinger at the Union County Extension Office at 937-644-8117 or email dellinger.6@osu.edu.