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stink bug

A brown marmorated stink bug is shown in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Michigan State University Department of Entomology

If you've seen a small shield-shaped brown insect slowing crawling on the walls inside your home, you might be housing one of Michigan's newest invaders: the brown marmorated stink bug.
This particular stink bug doesn't harm humans. They don't bite or spread disease, but they do eat plants and tree fruit. Since they first hitchiked to the United States about 20 years ago, but weren't seen in Michigan until 2010, they have become a pest to farmers and gardeners alike.

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

The bug looks like this:

Brown marmorated stink bug.
PSU Dept. of Entomology

The invasive skunk of the insect world has been found in four counties in Michigan. Here are the counties where the Brown marmorated stink bug has been found: Berrien Eaton Genesee Ingham If the bug feels threatened, or if you squish it, this stink bug... stinks. But the damage it can do to crops is what has officials in Michigan worried. The PSU Department of Entomology says the Brown marmorated stink bug damages fruit and vegetable crops by sucking plant fluids through its beak. A piece in lansingnoise.com estimated the damage it could do: The U.S. Department of Agriculture late last year looked at the potential damage to crops. Topping the list was the countrys $2.2 billion apple industry. Michigans share is $115 million worth, or 590 million pounds of apples harvested each year. I have these growers telling me that they fear this might be the worst pest in a generation for orchards, said Denise Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, which represents the states apple industry. The bug has proven it can resist pesticides, so whats to be done? Sabri Ben-Achour filed a report for NPR on how some researchers are looking into using foreign wasps to fight the bug: Can wasps squash the stink bug plague? Trissolcus wasps are from China, Japan and Korea. The same place where the invasive stink bug came from. The wasps are natural enemies of the Brown marmorated stink bug, so researchers want to know if they can release them in the U.S. without harming other native stink bugs that are beneficial. The researchers say it will take them three years to find out. In the meantime, some farmers will continue to try to fight the bug with pesticides - Ben-Achour reports some farmers are asking the EPA to relax pesticide regulations.

Can wasps squash the stink bug plague?

Apr 28, 2011

Home is where the heart is. It's also probably where a lot of stink bugs are right now, crawling out from cracks and crevices. They were introduced into Allentown, Pa., from Asia in the 1990s and have been spreading ever since, reaching seemingly plaguelike proportions in the mid-Atlantic states. But an experiment is under way to reintroduce the stink bug to its mortal enemy: a parasitic Asian wasp. The shield-shaped brown marmorated stink bugs descended on the mid-Atlantic region with the...