Typically on the top of our home invader list in Illinois are the Asian lady beetles," states University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup. It seems this season, there may be another to explore.Asian lady beetles originally released to help farmers with the pecan aphid, commonly like to overwinter in our homes. If there is a crack or crevice leading its way to the inside of your home, then you may be vulnerable to this and other unwanted inhabitants. They can be identified from the native ladybug by the black M shape just behind their head. Although they do not reproduce indoors or harm anything inside, they emit a foul odor, stain surfaces in your home and occasionally bite."
Another new potential home invader may be looking for a spot to overwinter in Illinois homes this year and that is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)," mentions Allsup. We have heard about invasions of homes in the Mid-Atlantic States in the past. They are a nuisance because they do what stink bugs do best – stink, but only when threatened.This invasive insect was first identified in 1998 in Pennsylvania and is considered a stowaway from Asia.
BMSB's have a large host range feeding on the landscape, native and agriculturally important produce. According to a new study by a University of Maryland entomologist, adults have a strong preference for ripe fruit, leaving the nymphs to eat other plant material. This has caused many growers on the East Coast, where the population has skyrocketed, to forfeit efforts to be organic and start using chemicals. Traps have also been developed using an aggregation pheromone.
The BMSB has piercing mouthparts and is capable of damaging a multitude of crops from apples to pears to soybeans and landscape ornamentals. University of Illinois Extension Entomologist, Mike Gray, has said, "BMSB are capable of causing economic losses to soybean and corn producers."
In the past, Kelly Estes, state survey coordinator at the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey Program, has also stated, "The combination of lower populations of BMSB and highly managed crop systems in Illinois have kept detection and economic injury levels low.""Most reports of this insect have come from urban areas in early spring and fall, generally from homeowners and master gardeners detecting these invasive insects in their homes looking for a place to overwinter," states Estes. However, they are expanding their territory with almost half the counties in Illinois having positive identifications and seven new counties this year with confirmations including Christian, Hancock, Woodford, Mercer, Douglas, Jersey and Grundy.The BMSB body has the shield-shape characteristic to stink bugs and it is as wide as it is long.
The three most identifying characteristics are its black and white banding on the antennae, the alternating dark/light banding on the edge of the wings and the smooth shoulders. They are capable of aggregating in manmade structures and recent USDA studies show they prefer large dead trees that are still standing in the forest-like oak or hickory on the East Coast. After overwintering in April, the adult lays 20-30 eggs with nymphs emerging shortly after. There can be multiple generations per year depending on seasonal temperatures.
To control Asian Lady beetles and BMSB in the home,1.Use a vacuum to suck up adults or drop them in soapy water2.Take steps in early fall to caulk cracks and crevices around the house3.Prevent movement in from the outside by repairing windows and putting on door sweeps4.It is not recommended to use sprays in the home because insecticide residues are relatively ineffective in providing control.The USDA currently classifies Illinois as being at low risk for the pest, as large numbers have not been recorded. Allsup encourages homeowners and gardeners to be on the lookout for this invasive pest as in the past few weeks she has found five BMSB on the screens of her windows at her Bloomington home.
If you believe, you have found a BMSB and it has not been found in your county yet, please submit it to your local Extension office to get positive confirmation for your county. For more information on BMSB, please contact University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator for Livingston, McLean & Woodford Counties, Kelly Allsup email@example.com (309) 663-8306.