Spread of invasive 'stink bug' has some farmers worried

May 8, 2013

The bug looks like this:

The brown marmorated stink bug is identified by its antennae and legs.
Credit Rutgers University

Or for a more menacing view of the brown marmorated stink bug:

Brown marmorated stink bug.
Credit PSU Dept. of Entomology

We reported two years ago that the invasive bugs were found in four Michigan counties.

No surprise - they're spreading.

Counties where the brown marmorated stink bug has been found.
Credit MSU

They've been spotted in twelve counties now, and agricultural officials worry about the potential costs to crops. MSU entomologist Matt Grieshop said the bug eats "pretty much anything." From CBS Detroit:

"...it feeds on soy beans, corn, pretty much all vegetable crops, just about all fruit crops, out east in New Jersey it’s the peach growers who are really being negatively impacted by it,"Grieshop said.

Grieshop said the bugs pose no danger to humans, but if they're squished, they do stink: "...the smell is a little like a combination of cilantro and sweaty sweat socks."

The bug has caused severe damage to orchards and crops in other states. It hasn't hit crops in Michigan yet, but officials think it's only a matter of time.

From MSU Extension:

Given the numerous reports of stinkbugs from the Stevensville, Mich., area, it’s likely the region will be the first to experience populations that impact the local agriculture. It’s not possible to predict when this will occur, but it’s a good idea for growers in southwest Michigan to be on the alert for this pest and knowledgeable about management options.

These invasive stink bugs can look a lot like our native stink bugs (the brown, the green, the rough, and the good ole spined soldier bug). You can use this guide from MSU extension to differentiate them.

If you think you have one, MSU Diagnostic Services would like you to send a digital photo to bugman@msu.edu. They say, "please save the specimen after you take the photo for potential further identification."