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.