No, it's not the invasion of the birds as from Alfred Hitchcock's thriller by that name, and it's not the giant tomato that ate Chicago. It's a simple, rather repulsive insect that was discovered for the first time in Indiana recently. Because Purdue University Ag Communications did a release on it to try to explain all the details, some newspaper picked it up and people have been talking about and fearing the coming of this pest. Farmers, at least, can relax. Entomologists say it could be several years before it is a pest of corn and soybeans.
It likes fruit much better, including apples. And before that, it likes to invade houses, much like the Asian lady beetle, also known as the Halloween beetle, both for its' orange body with black spots and its general appearance in October in many homes.
The brown mamorated stink bug was identified after it was sent from a homeowner in Elkhart County to the Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory. It is the first official record of this pest being in Indiana. Previously, it has been identified in Ohio and Kentucky.
A native of Japan, Korea and China, it's actually been in the U.S. sibce 1998, first showing up in Pennsylvania, then some other east-coast states. Phil Marshall, state entomologist with IDNR, says it's just another example of an exotic plant pest introduced through international trade. He doesn't expect a state quarantine to be issued. Those have been used with the emerald ash borer and in other cases, but he does not believe it would be effective in this situation.
The bugs won't actually cause damage inside a home, says Ricky Foster, Purdue Extension entomologist, but they can be annoying and will smell bad. Based on experiences elsewhere, it may stick to a home invader for several years before coming much of a threat on field crops.
Corn kernels and bean pods may eventually be a target, but the insect also likes fruit, especially apples. The bottom line is to be aware that another pest is here, but to not panic. It may not cause serious economic harm for farmers for many years. Those who raise vegetable crops, fruits and tomatoes could be impacted first.