Scientists Seeking New Weapon Against Stink Bugs

EMMITSBURG, Md. (AP/WJZ)—The invasion of Asian stink bugs is wreaking havoc on Maryland farms, damaging crops and costing farmers money.

Suzanne Collins is just back from western Maryland where farmers met top scientists to fight this invader. 

Asian stink bugs first appeared on Robert Black’s Catoctin Mountain orchard in 2009, but at the time he thought hail caused bruised apples. Then last fall they were everywhere and 15 percent of his crop was damaged.

“What’s going to happen? What are they going to do? Are they going away? Many thought the winter would kill them but we’re finding out more things. That’s really scary,” Black said.

Scientists tell farmers at a summit on this invasive species they’ve now discovered they can survive in cold storage, so apples kept away for sale through October are likely to be damaged, too.

If you ask Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, a farmer and scientist, the prognosis is bleak.

“This could be a plague of truly biblical proportions,” Bartlett said. “You know if I was a mad scientist splicing genes together to make a really nasty bug I couldn’t do better than this.”

The stink bug invasion is being compared to the destruction done by Japanese beetles. It’s hoped a chemical used to fight this brown marmorated stink bug in its Asian habitat will be approved for use here on fruit, but it won’t happen before fall.

Now the USDA has traps set at six Maryland orchards. The idea is find out how many are out there destroying the Maryland fruit crop.

They are hungry little buggers–not eating just fruit, but berries, grain, soybeans and even corn.

“Some of our farmers are harvesting corn. Last fall that had no kernels on the cob. The stink bug had eaten everything. In its heyday the Japanese beetle was not nearly as bad as this,” Bartlett said.

A wasp that may destroy stink bug eggs is being tested in quarantine in Delaware, but it may take two years to be sure it doesn’t kill good bugs so it can be released. 

Scientists confronting the brown marmorated stink bug hope to get an emergency exemption by August that would allow apple and peach growers to use an insecticide currently banned from orchards. The EPA currently allows the compound only on vegetables, grapes and cotton.

Experts from the U.S. Agriculture Department and Virginia Tech discussed their efforts to curb crop damage during a meeting Friday in Emmitsburg.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Nick

    Wintergreen alcohol kills them

  • pigeon

    Rather then spraying crops with insecticide, spray with soapy water using biodegradable dish soap.

  • Herman Glimsher


  • Linda White

    Yeah, I sprayed the stink bugs with the soap and water trick. All they did was raise up their arms and said “get under here too.”

  • Dave

    LOL @ Herman’s reply….

  • Leigh Ann Erdman

    Notice how the people with the brilliant ideas don’t use their real names?

  • mark

    > Rather then spraying crops with insecticide, spray with
    > soapy water using biodegradable dish soap.

    If it were that simple, why are the scientists investigating other methods (eg. egg laying wasps) to eradicate this pest?

    • Diana

      dawn dish wash detergent and water in a spray bottle kills them quickly just try it. It is that simple scientist make the mistake of making things to complicated.

  • Sandy Ackerman

    Ok here goes.. Wasn’t to bothered and trust me I have a bunch in my house.. After a few unfortunate run ins with them, invading my personal space.. So on my nightstand there was about 5 decided to put them in an almost empty water bottle.. Still alive the second night.. Some process.. same night 5 more added.. All alive.. I sprayed my B/B splash spray.. uh hah all dead this morning… It works for me…lol

  • Ouch


  • pigeon

    Thanks, Sandy. It’s been working for me straight along.
    And, Leigh Ann, FYI – it’s Janet. No need for you to post S/A comments. And, unless you tried it don’t knock it.

  • Betty fry

    My house is invaded. One good thing – our overweight cat gets exercise chasing them. If it is going to be dish soap and water, good luck and buy stock in Ivory soap as this is going to be big. These bugs are going to put us through a lot of misery. Save the dish soap for the dishes, it won’t be enough. It would be a “drop in the sink to get rid of the stink”

  • Dyaprema

    Invasion of one’s home and invasion of our food supply compare like apples and oranges (no pun intended). My granddaughter is absolutely terrified by them and walks around with blankets because they will dive-bomb warm humans. I live in an old house with so many spaces to caulk, I recommend buying stock in caulking! I am all about natural and am ready to try to garlic spray, catnip spray and wintergreen spray all together! I dread the sunny days coming. How sad! My water bill soared from all the flushing of stink bugs! I am ready for the scientists to take control, but Asian Wasps?? Oh, nothing can go wrong with that! Right?

  • Writing Jobs

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  • Neil in PA

    Best trick indoors is a water bottel (e.g. propel bottel) with about 1 inch water, 1/4 inch dawn soap. Put the bottle opening just below the bug and it usually will fall or drop into the bottel. They will drown. They naturally will fly into the hole. Keep the bottel and dispose after you get about 20. Saves lots of water and no smell. Just don’t spill or drink. Don’t care what I read, I have been bitten by these bugs when they were “trapped” w/ in my shirt.

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