- Crops & Livestock
- Pastures & Hay
- Soil & Water
- Processing & Marketing
- Farm Business Management
- Small Farms, Local Food, and Wildfires
- Small Farms, Local Food, and COVID-19
Author: Rachel Suits, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University
Publish Date: Fall 2015
The BMSB is also a homeowner nuisance pest because it has overwintering habits to seek shelter in residents’ homes, similar to boxelder bugs and lady beetles.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug first appeared in the Portland area in 2004 and has now spread into most Oregon counties that lie along the I-5 and I-84 corridors. The spread of BMSB is likely due to its ability to hitchhike on vehicles and cargo trains. Also contributing to BMSB’s spread is the adults’ great flying capabilities which aid in dispersal.
The BMSB is characterized by white bands on their antennae, smooth shoulders, and mottled brown coloration. Adults look similar to native stink bugs including predatory species like the rough stink bug, which makes it important to correctly identify the insect. BMSBs and rough stink bugs have similar coloration and fall behaviors of seeking refuge indoors to overwinter. However, rough stink bugs differ because of their rough shoulders and solid antennae color.
Adult female Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs lay eggs from spring until late summer. There are usually about 28 clear-blue eggs in a cluster, and the eggs are primarily laid on the underside leaves. The eggs hatch in 4-6 days and the first instar larvae, which are typically red and black or white and black in color, stay around the egg mass feeding on bacteria left by the mother. Once the nymphs reach the second instar stage, they begin feeding on plant tissues including leaves, stems and fruit. As the nymphs continue to grow, they develop the same brown and black mottled coloration as the adults but lack fully developed wings.
Because of BMSB’s wide host range and high mobility, a whole-farm pest management approach is needed. Research is being conducted to investigate sustainable management strategies like biological control, habitat manipulation, trap crops and barriers.
In addition to biological controls, researchers are studying habitat manipulation to further help organic farmers combat BMSB. They are looking at BMSB movement patterns in mixed environments, including wild and cultivated hosts, in order to discover potential aggregation hot spots throughout the season. Identifying movement patterns may help farmers target the location of trap crops or manipulate the habitat unfavorably for the insect. Further research is needed to understand the behavior and host plant selection of BMSB.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are not easily managed using chemical controls because they are already showing signs of resistance to pesticides. However, BMSB are repelled by essential oils like spearmint, lemongrass, clove and ylang-ylang. The challenge with essential oils is that they volatize quickly, which reduces ongoing protection. Further investigations are needed to look at both conventional and organic chemicals, although BMSB does not readily respond to chemical controls.This pest has the potential to be devastating and scientists are learning more about its behaviors in order to suggest the best pest management strategies in combating the BMSB. Currently, monitoring and correct identification are valuable tools in assessing infestations. Excluding the pest from agricultural Oregon Small Farm News Vol. X No. 4 Page 7 hosts provides the best pest management tool, so far. Biological control looks promising in the future, but more research is needed to evaluate its impact on BMSB populations.