Natural Predator May Be Answer To Stopping Stink Bugs

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Looking for a natural born killer to go after a foreign invader. The target is the Asian stink bug, which has been crawling inside Maryland homes all winter.

Alex DeMetrick reports researchers have found a natural predator for the pests, but don’t know if it’s safe to let loose.

In the U.S., no poison can kill it. There’s no predator to hunt it.

“They’ve been a very successful invader,” said Dr. Kim Hoelmer, USDA researcher.

Most likely brought here in a shipping container from Asia five years ago, the brown marmorated stink bug has spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

In Maryland, they have spent the winter making themselves at home in our homes. But as spring warms, they will migrate back outdoors and multiply.

“Some entomologists have been quoted to say it’s going to be biblical,” said Paula Shrewsbury, University of Maryland.

That’s bad news for growers, who saw crops like apples damaged last year.

“We’ve had apple growers in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia that have lost 80 percent of their crop due to this,” said Shrewsbury.

Leaving marks where they feed, more stink bugs will mean more losses, because in the U.S. nothing feeds on them.

“I’m nervous. I’ll pray for some answers, and there are smart people working on this,” said Dwight Baugher, Carroll County grower.

This is where some of them are working: a USDA research lab in Delaware.

“All of these small petri dishes contain egg masses of the stink bug, which we have taken from our colony of egg masses,” said Hoelmer.

Those egg masses are the stink bug’s weak spot. Deposited in clutches of 24 eggs on leaves, they are vulnerable to a natural predator not much bigger than ground pepper–a tiny wasp from Asia that implants its own young in stink bug eggs.

“And as that egg hatches and grows, it consumes the egg from the inside out. So instead of an egg producing a healthy young stink bug, it produces another wasp,” said Hoelmer.

But they can’t let it out of the lab, not yet.

Under tight control, the wasps are being studied to see if they’ll attack native stink bugs.

“There are some stink bugs in North America that are beneficial because they’re predators, important agricultural predators. So we want to make sure we’re not introducing a new natural enemy to a beneficial stink bug,” said Hoelmer.

Determining if the wasps will do more good than harm is going to take the lab time.

“Probably two years or so from now, we may be ready…if we find an agent we think is safe to release,” said Hoelmer.

Meanwhile, an invader is spreading unchecked.

Because of the serious threat they pose to agriculture, researchers are working on other biological controls, as well as racing to develop an effective pesticide against stink bugs.

More from Alex DeMetrick

One Comment

  1. James D Jones says:

    Got Stink??

    1. Carrie Sore says:

      Yes, all I have to say about this is CANE TOADS in Austrailia. Seriously people, learn from history.

      1. T says:

        what about termidor sc my exterminator sparyed foundation of my home last spring and fall for ants spiders etc. 1st winter didnot see any ar all

    2. tiffany smith says:

      So let me get this straight…instead of having millions of stinkbugs running around, we would replace them with millions of wasps…that STING? Am I the only one that doesn’t see this as the most logical solution??? Help me out…

      1. trent says:

        i know this is old but the unfortunate problem of the stink bugs has finally re-invaded my home today but the wasps would have many natural enemies such as spiders other wasps and insects that eat other insects and bats and birds and small lizards…so the wasp population would be just like any other wasp population and would decline heavily after a few years because all the stink bugs would die off and that means no eggs for the wasps to lay their eggs in

  2. joe stogie says:

    It seems like over the centuries man has tried to introduce a preditor species into the wlld to control an invasive species just to have that new species take over and cause more harm that the original species. Bad idea. Just nuke em with some powerful new chemical, we’re all used to that.

    1. pigeon says:

      Every chemical known to man has been tried & they didn’t work. Best to catch & drown them in water & dish soap.
      Scares the heck out of me to think they may possible release an unknown amount of those wasps. I’m sooooooo allergic to any kind of “bee” stings – just something else to put me in the hospital.
      We can put men on the moon but can’t find something that will HELP eliminate these pests!

  3. Karen Reifsnider says:

    I’ve written a song about stink bugs. It is sung to the tune of bicycle built for two. I have copies it below
    e Stink Bug Song
    To the tune “Bicycle Built for Two”
    1st Stanza
    There is a pest, an unwanted guest, Stink Bug, Stink Bug
    Showed up one day and won’t go away
    Even with all the spray.
    When I kill no remorse do I feel, they really irritate me
    Can you please tell me how in the world to be stink bug free.
    Stink Bug, Stink Bug, How do their numbers grow
    I’m half crazy trying to make them go.
    So what purpose do they serve, none that I’ve ever heard?
    They’re nuisance for sure. How much more to endure.
    I can’t take this anymore
    2nd stanza
    As I think about the big, big mess, Stink Bug, Sting Bug
    More hatred I have I must confess. They must be a curse I guess.
    Too many to count, too many that stay
    All at once I’m afraid. I can’t ever get them to go away
    I need your help with this
    3rd Stanza
    He who exterminates must be called, Stink Bug, Stink Bug.
    To kill the rest of them finally, would be the best news of all.
    A memory I want them to be, never to be recalled
    I know that won’t happen here because, they’ll be back again next year.

    1. josye says:

      Job well done, Karen! Hope you hear from a recording studio soon.

  4. James J. Bilenki Jr. (USN. RET.) says:

    This is yet another example of allowing foreigners into OUR country! If we don’t stop them at OUR boarders they will continue to destroy OUR country and cost us Trillions of tax payer dollars/your dollars to kill them or at least keep them out. Support more stringent laws to keep out ALL Illegal Aliens. Regardless if their blood sucking insects of Illegal Alien home sapiens! But that’s redundent isn’t it?

    1. pigeon says:

      This is also what happened because of importing so much trash products from other countries and taking away millions of jobs from our citizens. The USofA has always done for others only to be slapped in the face or stabbed in the back (France for instance, to name only one). Who owns America – the Chinese! For whom do we have to pick English or Spanish when we make a call – Mexicans. How come we didn’t do this for all the Jewish, German, Italian, Greek or other nationalities? Because they wanted to live here, they wanted to be Americans, and 99.9% of them came here legally. No so those who “crossed the boarders” – all they want is free education, free medical, free homes, etc. And WE GIVE IT TO THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      This probably won’t get posted cause I’m stepping on someone’s toes or hurting their feelings. TTSTK!

      1. peace says:

        The Cherokees, the Navahos, and all the other Native Americans did invite your ancestors here did they? We did much worse to them than all that happened to us now. This world would have a much better chance for peace if there are no borders. All your Gods would want it that way.

  5. RBeck says:

    I down them in a cup of water.

    1. pigeon says:

      Add dish soap to the water – they suffer more!

      1. independent says:

        You can spray them with a dish soap and water solution rather than bug spray – it is just as effective if not moreso with no chemicals in your home.

      2. issac7 says:

        Is this more about torture or a remedy to get rid of them. Don’t take out on these hapless bugs what you secretly feel like doing to those who have wronged you.

  6. R Beck says:

    They are eatable and considered a delicacy in Asia.

    1. gerrygriff says:

      R.Beck, get your spelling correct moron before you run your mouth. It is “editable” & not eatable. 7 you eat that s….t….Nothing good ever came from Asia. They sended us wars, disease, lousy greasy food, parasites & bugs, the people are filthy, have no morals & yes, they live fifty to a house & eat rat.

      1. Ann says:

        gerrygriff – R Beck’s word was actually more correct than yours. It’s “edible” as in “can be eaten”, not “editable”, as in “enable correction mode”.

      2. Squaregrouper says:

        I love it when the grammar nazis can’t use proper English themselves. This fine product of Baltimore’s school system had the following misspellings: “editable”, “sended”. The punctuation flaws are as follows: “correct moron before” (lacked commas or dashes before and after moron) “7” (don’t know what was intended) “lousy greasy (need a comma between adjectives) “bugs, the” (separate thoughts- the comma should have been a period with “The” being capitalized.

      3. ste says:

        They “sended” us… and you are correcting someone else on their spelling.
        pot calling the kettle…..

      4. pigeon says:

        Not 100% sure but I believe he didn’t hold down the shift key – meant “&”? I’m a product of the Baltimore City school system, so we are not all alike (thank God). His problem is his fingers moving faster then his brain, which we all know doesn’t work all that good anyway.
        Oh boy, he’s going to run off of the mouth at me yet AGAIN! If he does I just might pout!
        Have a wonderful evening everyone.

    2. pigeon says:

      If that is truly the case, they should have kept them there as we surely don’t want them.

      1. kInghenry says:

        Pigeon, Start pouting. I’ll bet your so ugly that when you were born the Doctor slapped your momma instead….I’m not the product of the Balto schools but Brooklyn N.Y. where we worked for a living & never learned to type until later in life.
        Now, I’m a world beater & I don’t mean with my Willy either.

  7. Captain Trips says:

    Stink bugs are awful, but someone name me a time when we released a foreign species to solve a problem that didn’t then become a problem itself.

  8. gerrygriff says:

    We’re not slanty eyed Asians. We also don’t eat rat & other rodents that you get in your Chinese take out.

  9. Cathy says:

    Stink Bugs are aphid eaters. If their here there is a reason(By nature)

    1. josye says:

      Thanks be to God, that the sink bugs are not carrying a plague like the rats and mosquito’s of the 14th century.

  10. fred says:

    This bug makes little brown dots on the skin of the fruits it feeds on. The fruit is still viable, but simply not “pretty” enough for Americans to be able to tolerate on the store shelf. Sometimes it’s so embarassing to be a human being.

  11. Doug says:

    If it weren’t for oceans,
    civilization would have disappeared long ago

  12. independent says:

    They were outside attached to logs in my woodpile all winter, and when I bring the wood inside, they thaw and buzz around the house. No wonder they’re invading so quickly, the cold does not kill them.

  13. marian says:

    i have froze them with computer key board spray, vinagar and water and frebreze. and just last night good old tap water with a spray bottle. it appears they can not take liquid. wonder what happens to the ones outside during a rain shower if just spraying them kills them? i now keep a spray (listed above) in every room in my house. two sprays and belly up. bye bye stink bug

    1. Wendy says:

      this works as long as you get then on the underside – the top is a hard shell and resists such wet treatment…

  14. Samantha Elizabeth says:

    cant u jus step on em? or smack em with a fly swatter?

    1. Wendy says:

      stink bugs? you can if you want to leave the room for several hours

    2. pigeon says:

      Did you ever smell that’s been hit/swated or whatever? YUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!! If they even think they are in danger they emanate their “perfume”. One of my cats was “playing” with a stink bug – oh my gosh – I had to spay the room and furniture because of the “stink”.

      1. pigeon says:

        Sorry for the errors – The cat was already spayed – had to spray the room & furniture.

    3. uni7 says:

      Why do you think they call them stink bugs. Because they stink like s….t when you step on them.

  15. Wendy says:

    PLEASE let’s not introduce any non-natve insects into the U.S. – we have enough of our own already, and then another issue is created if those have no natural predators…. just look at kudzu!

  16. trey says:

    please get rid of them.i see them in my school they’re so disgusting and they can fly

  17. DS says:

    1) I agree. Don’t introduce another invasive species.

    2) The racist comments on here are deplorable. Please stop.

  18. Colette Maravetz says:

    Stink bugs are drawn to anything white… the brighter the white, the more they are drawn.. old fashioned fly paper with a bright white background instead of yellow would trap them… drown them after they are caught, or see if they die when unable to move. but the white fly paper might work to keep them off apples and fruit in orchards and get those inside our homes…

  19. Charlotte says:

    I totally agree w/Peace. The Native American’s are the true indigenous people in this country. All others were brought or came here on some boat or other. You racists need to get a life; and let everyone live in peace. There are some good suggestions in these replies on how to get rid of the bugs and they are not chemicals;just plain soapy water and white fly paper. Don’t introduce another species that may do more harm.

  20. ellspeth says:

    Charlotte, the “Native Americans” originally came from Asia. Get an education.

    1. JEC says:

      You don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Native Americans were always here. They never came from Asia. What you trying to take up for the white people. The ones who came to America and tryed to kill off all the Native Americans. Now you want us to beleive there from Asia. Well my family came from here not Asia. You need to read your history books and go back to school.

  21. pigeon says:

    I’ trying to get a picture in my mind of walking thru an apple orchard where there’s fly paper hanging from the branches.
    But you can bet I’m going to try the fly paper in my house – hope it works!

    1. pigeon says:

      Oh geez – did it again – should be I’m (or I am). Sorry. Yeah, I know – Baltimore City schools – that’s okay, at least I find my errors and try correcting them. I think I need to hone my proofreading skills!

      1. kinghenry says:

        Shame on your tookas. See, you’re not as perfect as you thought boob.

  22. Tammy Wertz says:

    I don’t know if spraying them would be just as effective, but please remember that when they are agitated, they excrete their horrible smell, which in turn, calls more of them to their location. However, I have found a solution to our stink bug problem, and it doesn’t include introducing an unknown accounting of wasps, increasing the chance of my child getting stung, or whatever unknown environmental problems these bees may cause in droves. Go out, and buy yourself a Slurpee. Yep, that’s what I said.. buy yourself a treat and enjoy. When you’re finished, wash your cup and the DOMED lid, roll up a paper towel to plug the hole in the lid. Then put about an inch of window cleaner, or cleaning chemical in the cup. When the little ‘stinkers’ show up, use the lid to scoop up the bug, and drop it into the cup. It’ll die in about 3 minutes. No fuss, no muss, and best of all, no stink!

  23. Pat Wertz says:

    Fly paper? Anyone who has ever used Fly paper knows it does not kill the insect that gets attached to it, they’re just stuck until they die. Can you imagine one or more live stink bugs stuck on fly paper releasing their offensive odor for hours — days until it/they die? YUCK!!!!
    NO!!! Wasp!!! Use Windex or Dish soap!!!

  24. Alaina says:

    Omg I HATE these bugs! I am sooo petrified of bugs… I hope someone can find a pesticide that is affective instead of wasps!

  25. Carol says:

    In West Virginia we have found that the product Tal-Star will kill the stink bugs. We have used it on the outside of our home around windows and doors, cracks and crevices–anywhere they can find their way into our home. It kills them and it lasts about 30 days or so. Not good on agricultural plants thoug and DOES NOT repel them or keep them from coming back (sigh). Our Southern States can’t keep the product in stock, so if you find some buy it. One ounce to a gallon of water in a garden sprayer goes a long way. Oh and putting them in water isnt as effective as cooking oil-they suffocate this way. Hope this helps!

  26. Alec says:

    I’m deathly afraid of them. I just freeze up when I see them… I dread winter so much because I have to bring in firewood and they hide on it. I’m scared out of my mind every time. And my mom hangs our clothes outside so I find myself checking my clothes for them… Although… if you released the wasp on the stink bugs it would end up like with Russia, if you know what I mean. But I ain’t afraid of no wasps so go ahead. Only problem is, my area already has a bee and wasp problem so I don’t know. Stinkbugs shoukd learn to make nests so they don’t need us for warmth😀

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