Stink Bugs Threatening To Destroy Summer Crops

THURMONT, Md. (WJZ)—It’s an army marching on its stomach, and Maryland crops are on the menu. Brown marmorated stink bugs native to Asia are threatening to destroy crops this summer.

Alex DeMetrick reports experts are already seeing signs of the attack.

At Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Frederick County researchers are looking for a highly destructive pest native to Asia that was all too familiar in Maryland homes this past winter: the brown marmorated stink bug.

“Although we know they were in everyone’s homes, and we know they were in every building, they’re really out in the sort of natural areas,” said Bryan Butler, University of Maryland Extension agent.

That includes woods.

“They’ve poured in from the perimeters into the orchard blocks,” Butler said. “We do have pretty significant damage in the 10 orchards. We’re working in particularly around the perimeters, particularly in peaches.”

Traps set by the University of Maryland Extension Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture aren’t catching many stink bugs.

But evidence is showing up in the young peaches and apples being collected.

Brown spots called “corking” show where the bugs are eating.

“It’s a mouthpart like a hypodermic needle that actually pierces down into the fruit, vegetables, even blossoms and affects all crops,” said Bob Black, Catoctin Mountain Orchard.

And more are on the way. First egg clutches are already hatching baby stink bugs, and there is no effective insecticide or natural predator.

Last year at Catoctin Mountain Orchard, stink bugs “hit some of my late apples, my pink ladies, 50 percent were damaged,” Black said.

“If we can’t get a handle on this and really get some level of control in the next two to three years, if the damage continues the way it did last year and the way we’re seeing it this year, these farms will cease to exist,” Butler said.

So researchers look for the insect and answers.

The brown marmorated stink bug is believed to have arrived in a cargo container shipped to Allentown, Pa. 11 years ago.

More from Alex DeMetrick
  • JeanM

    Now is the time to stock up on food. You shoudl have at least 6 months on hand. Things will get ugly. Be prepared.

  • Red Alert

    Yes, JeanM, and you will want to brush up on your english to alien language conversion skills as well. They will arrive in mother ships from the east.

  • fraught

    I’m still hearing from the state experts that the “damage” to the fruit is restricted mainly to the unsightly brown spots on the fruit. It’s still viable fruit to eat, it’s just not pretty enough for consumers to buy. And I have to shake my head a little after writing that.

  • bkeyser

    DDT would work, but environmentalists like apples cored by stink bugs.

    • PG Rocky

      Oh, grow up! And while you’re at it go read “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson.

  • marian

    this past spring i saw what could have been a big problem. i was mowing my lawn and noticed my firer bushes new shoots looked funny. when i finished mowind i went and had a look. i was shocked. there were all these little bugs chewing on the young leaves. so tiny i went into the house and got a magnifing glass. guess what? baby stink bugs!!! i first sprayed the shoots with soap water then i pruned each and every new growth and placed in a heavy plastic bag. then when i was finished i took a new bottle of alcohol and dumped it in the bag, tied it, placed it inside another heavy plastic bag. i was glad i saw this early. my yard and house would have been invaded by millions of these bugs. thankfully my bush is safe and growing again and i have not seen one bug (so far).

  • jason

    how to get rid of it in our house without stinky leftovers in our place? stink bugs are so nasty, and their scent causes me headache.

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