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Asian Stink Bugs Invade America

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By Henry Moorecroft
Thursday, November 18, 2010
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About the Author

Henry Moorecroft

Henry Moorecroft, leading the war against all things stink bug! He shares all in his latest ebook. Henry is a father of one daughter, ellie, and is married to Yolanda. Together they enjoy their quiet lives together taking care of their dog, Chandler. Henry works full time as a store manager while his wife is an active member of the local bowls club. Henry's personal interests include, travelling, badminton and chess.

Henry Moorecroft has written 6 article(s) for

The mid-Atlantic states of the USA are seeing a form of alien life heretofore unknown to them. We’re talking about brown marmorated stink bugs. Although they’ve been spotted occasionally over the past few years, this year more and more people in the eastern parts of New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia are reporting the presence of these insects in their orchards, gardens, and homes. The bugs have even been seen as far west as Oregon. Altogether brown marmorated stink bugs have been spotted in 15 states.  

It’s not as if the United States doesn’t have native stink bugs. Mainly, though, they are found in southern states spanning Texas and heading eastwards towards the Atlantic and northward to Virginia. But, until lately, the Mid-Atlantic States have been pretty much stink-bug-free. This year, they’re literally being bugged in a dramatic and critical manner. 

Halymorpha halys, as these stink bugs are more formally known, are not indigenous to the United States, although they can easily be confused with some of the native species. A side-effect of globalization, brown marmorated stink bugs are believed to have hitched a ride into the United States in some packing crates that came from either China or Japan. Korea and Taiwan are also natural habitats for this particular species of stink bugs. Their first documented sighting in the USA was in September 1998 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, although it’s possible that they arrived earlier.

From 1998 to the present, brown marmorated stink bugs have multiplied to such an extent that they are now threatening to become a major agricultural pest. Largely herbivorous, these stink bugs feed on a wide range of fruit trees, vegetables, and feed crops. With their piercing probosces, they suck the juices out of their host plants. Although this doesn’t render the fruit or vegetable inedible, it does however leave a distortion that makes the produce unattractive to consumers and, thus, unmarketable. This year has seen the most extensive agricultural damage done by stink bugs in the United States. Farmers in several states report damage to as much as 20 percent of their crops. This may seem surprising, considering that indigenous stink bugs have been around for a long time, but the difference is that the native species of stink bugs have natural predators that keep them in check; brown marmorated stink bugs have none, thus they have been free to reproduce without check. Researchers have imported and are studying a parasitic wasp that is the natural predator of the brown marmorated stink bug; however, more research is needed to study the environmental effects that unleashing these wasps would have, and this is likely to take several more years. 

Stink bugs are also becoming a major nuisance to house and apartment dwellers who are having difficulty in keeping them out of their homes. In search of warm places to hibernate during cold, winter months, stink bugs swarm into buildings as the days become shorter and temperatures lower. Although they do not cause any real harm to humans and they do not reproduce indoors, still the presence of sometimes hundreds of them around one’s immediate vicinity can be rather disconcerting, if not downright terrifying for those suffering from entomophobia (fear of bugs).

DATE SUBMITTED : Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The line about their not reproducing indoors may be changing. I live in PA not too far from Allentown where they supposedly were 1st found. I've had them in my house for 3 years now and just going crazy as they were getting worse and worse. I was collecting about a dozen a day. Before I found out not to squish them I'd get like 60 of them in a night. They're disgusting! but my point here is that I noticed my house plant, a Heptapleurum, was looking poorly. Upon inspecting it I noticed lots of tiny brown specks then a few stick bugs flew out. It took me about 30 sec. to get the plant outside. That was 2 days ago and our stink bug count is down to 1 today and I hoping for none tomorrow. I think they must have chosen that plant to be their "host" plant and just lovin' it in here. They're outside now looking for someplace warm tonight!

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