Brown marmorated stink bugs to invade homes this fall

The approaching cooler weather means fall is just around the corner, but it can also herald in unwanted pests looking for a warm place to overwinter. One pest that is invading homes and other buildings in the northeast at an increasing rate is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). Long a pest in its native Asia, BMSB is an invasive agricultural pest of stone fruit, especially peaches, as well as many other plant species. It was first detected in North America in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2001. The insect is also considered a nuisance pest, especially in the fall, when adult BMSB enter homes looking for a place to over winter.

A new project funded by the Northeastern IPM Center will try to determine if mass pheromone trapping is a viable management tactic. According to George Hamilton, professor of entomology at Rutgers University and project coordinator, currently there are no adequate pest management alternatives to prevent overwintering adults from entering buildings, resulting in illegal use of bug bombs and other insecticides, which can be dangerous.

The traps Hamilton will be using contain pheromones, which are chemicals produced by insects to communicate with other individuals of their species. Pheromone traps are often used by growers to determine the status of pest populations in the field. Trapping insect pests can be one component of an integrated pest management (IPM) plan. IPM aims to manage pests -- such as insects, diseases, weeds and animals -- by combining physical, biological and chemical tactics that are safe, profitable and environmentally compatible. The project, which is just beginning this fall, will take place in an industrial park in New Jersey. Researchers will evaluate tenants’ awareness and concerns, as well as the effectiveness of pheromone traps in an industrial park setting and tenant satisfaction. According to Hamilton, BMSB adults emerge in spring, and then mate and lay eggs from June to August. “BMSB grows to adulthood during July and August with the adults searching for overwintering sites in September until the first frost, often in homes and other human structures.”

During the winter, BMSB do not reproduce, and feeding, if any occurs, is minimal. They are plant feeders and will not bite people or pets. The best way to control BMSB is to prevent them from entering the structure. “Place screens over windows, doors and vents, remove window air conditioners and caulk cracks around windows and doorframes,” says Hamilton. “Removing window air conditioners is important, as numerous BMSB will enter this way. Remove any BMSB you find indoors either by hand or by using a vacuum. Be sure to empty the vacuum or remove the bag after using.”

For more information about BMSB and its control or to report a sighting, go to web site http://njaes.rutgers.edu/stinkbug/. You can also download a Northeastern IPM Center Regional Pest Alert on BMSB at http://www.hgic.umd.edu/_media/documents/publications/Stink_Bug_Pest_Alert.pdf. For more information about pheromone trapping, contact Hamilton at (732) 932-9774 or email at hamilton@NJAES.rutgers.edu.

The Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center fosters the development and adoption of IPM, a science-based approach to managing pests in ways that generate economic, environmental, and human health benefits. The Center works in partnership with stakeholders from agricultural, urban, and rural settings to identify and address regional priorities for research, education, and outreach. For more information, visit http://NortheastIPM.org. Source: Env. News Network.

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