Calls and emails from homeowners about the brown marmorated stink bug to University of Missouri Extension specialists may be a warning of what is to come in 2021 crop season.
Kevin Rice, MU Extension field crop entomologist, says brown marmorated stink bugs are infiltrating homes, looking for warm quarters as winter approaches. If it follows the pattern of other states, it will become a major pest in field, fruit and vegetable crops, reducing yields and causing economic losses.
“BMSB adults typically overwinter in deciduous woods but are also attracted to human-made shelters such as homes and sheds,” Rice says. “They have a strong dispersal from crop systems toward overwintering sites after the fall equinox.”
Brown marmorated stink bugs are native to Asia but first arrived in Pennsylvania in 2001. Since then, the pest has spread to 46 states, including Missouri.
It is an invasive insect herbivore that has a diverse appetite, feeding on more than 100 different plant species, including field crops, fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants, creating severe economic injury.
As the name indicates, the pest is brown and it stinks.
It can be distinguished from native stink bugs by white bands on its antennae. Additionally, adults have alternating light and dark banding along abdominal edges.
According to a new MU Extension publication, “Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Midwest Field Crops,” females lay egg clusters on the underside of leaves that hatch within three to six days, and after completing five instars, adults emerge about three weeks later. Peak populations occur in late summer or early fall.
Adults overwinter in woodlands underneath tree bark and human-made shelters, such as homes and sheds. Climate models suggest BMSB have two generations per year throughout most of the Midwest.
Damage on the horizon
In soybeans, the brown marmorated stink bug scars seeds and flattens pods. In large numbers, it delays senescence in soybeans, resulting in “stay green syndrome,” causing additional losses at harvest.
In corn, it reduces kernel quality and increases disease susceptibility.
This pest is an “edge species,” with higher populations along field borders, Rice says. Control measures are available, but it depends on crop and chemical.
For more on the brown marmorated stink bug or to download the free MU Extension publication, visit extension.missouri.edu/g7413.