Why the Big Stink Over This Little Bug- The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

New Release by Kelly Estes, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator for Illinois

It is not uncommon to find stink bugs during the summer near tree fruits such as apples or peaches or in the garden. During the fall months, stink bugs are looking for places to hide in order to survive the winter. The Brown Marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is an invasive pest that has been detected in Illinois and, like its native stink-bug counterparts, will also be in search of over-wintering sites. Unfortunately, the BMSB may be looking at your home as a retreat for the winter months. BMSB typically find cracks and crevices as points of entry into your home. It is important to seal around windows, doors, siding, pipes, etc. to eliminate the opportunity of invasion. If you already have BMSB in your home, sealing these areas will trap them inside where they will die. There are other areas that also provide shelter, such as storage sheds, barns and other protected sites.

It is not advised to use insecticide treatment after the BMSB has gained entry into your home. Treatment will not prevent additional invaders from entering the area. The removal of both dead and live stink bugs can be aided by the use of a vacuum. You should be aware that it may cause an unpleasant odor to your vacuum for a period of time. Insecticidal treatments to the outside of the home to prevent entry may be short lived and are also not recommended.

Identification of BMSB can be a bit of a challenge. Like other stink bugs, adult BMSB have the typical "shield" shaped body. Some key characteristics of BMSB are white bands on the antennae and legs, a distinct black and white pattern around their abdomen, and a smooth "shoulder" (other stink bugs have a jagged or rough "shoulder").

One might ask, "Why such a big stink over such a little bug?" The BMSB has been found to be the cause of damage to a variety of fruits and vegetables, sometimes reducing their marketability. Damage is especially harmful to tree fruits as it can cause "cat facing," a distortion of the fruit that renders the fruit unmarketable as a fresh product. The Mid-Atlantic States had an estimated $37 million in economic losses in 2010.

There is still a lot to be learned about this new pest. A great resource of current BMSB research and news is being done by the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) IPM Working Group. They are currently working to find out more about the problems that are being caused by BMSB and what management practices are being followed. If you would like to contribute to the survey follow this link:https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BMSBsurvey

Populations of BMSB are varied across the state depending on location. There have been larger populations of BMSB found in northeastern and southwestern Illinois. The BMSB has expanded its range into Montgomery and Sangamon Counties in 2015.

If you discover the BMSB, please send specimens that you collect in a crush-proof container to Kelly Estes, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator for Illinois at the following address: Illinois Natural History Survey, 1816 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Kelly will also examine photographs if sent via email to her email address:kcook8@illinois.edu.