Oklahoma: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Makes 1st Appearance

Brown marmorated stink bug. Photo: Scott Graham, University of Tennessee

In October 2019, we received a specimen of what appeared to be an exotic stink bug species, brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys (Stål) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). The insect was collected in Logan County by an entomology student, and its identity was later confirmed as BMSB, making it the first record of this invasive species in Oklahoma. A second specimen was recovered in Stillwater (Payne County) in mid-December.

Brown marmorated stink bug is native to Asia where it is considered an agricultural pest. First detected in the U.S. in 1996 in Pennsylvania, BMSB is now found in at least 40 states.

This pest is a generalist herbivore, feeding on over 100 species of plants including ornamentals and crops of agricultural and horticultural importance. In addition to its status as a plant pest, BMSB is also a nuisance pest as it overwinters indoors, often amassing in large numbers and producing a foul odor.

Identification and Life History

Brown marmorated stink bug superficially resembles several native stink bug species. However, this insect has white and black banding on the antennae and along the outer margins of the abdomen, which differentiate BMSB from other stink bugs.

Non-reproductive adults overwinter in homes and other buildings as well as natural shelters, especially crevices in trees. Adults measure 0.5 to 0.6 of an inch long and begin to emerge from overwintering sites in early spring.

Females mate several times and lay pale green eggs measuring 0.06 inches wide in clusters of 25 to 28 eggs on the underside of leaves. Eggs turn white just prior to hatching.

Neonates (first instars) have black heads with red eyes, and their abdomens are reddish orange with black markings. Nymphs develop through five instars, and development from egg to adult requires 538 degree days (32-35 days at 86°F) with a minimum and maximum developmental threshold of 57 and 95°F, respectively. Nymphs do not have fully developed wings, but all instars have dark red eyes.

Early instars transition from red to nearly black as they mature, and ultimately turn brown as adults. One to two generations per year have been observed in the invasive range of this pest. However, four to six generations are reported from southern China, so multiple generations are likely in southern regions of its North American distribution.

Hosts and Feeding Injury

Brown marmorated stink bug is highly polyphagous, feeding on over 100 host plants that include tree and small fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and field crops. This pest feeds on many economically important crops including apple, peach, filbert nut, pear, wheat, hemp, grapes and other small fruit, field and sweet corn, soybean, sorghum, sunflower, pepper, tomato, and eggplant. On these hosts, BMSB preferentially attacks reproductive structures of the plant.

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Like other stink bug pests, feeding injury by BMSB is characterized by small necrotic areas on leaves and fruit. Injury to fruit may include water-soaked lesions and cat-facing.

On ornamental trees, BMSB can use its piercing-sucking mouthparts to penetrate through bark, causing tree sap to accumulate at the feeding site and subsequently attract ants and stinging wasps and bees.

Monitoring and Management

Because BMSB is an invasive species and new to Oklahoma, it is important to delineate where it occurs within the state. Through reliable identification of the pest and subsequent monitoring efforts followed by lewisville pest control co, we can determine the best approaches to managing this pest in affected crops.

An important first step is to reach out to stakeholders in each county, especially homeowners and growers who may be affected. For example, a citizen science approach, complete with training on identification, life history, and ecology of BMSB, has led to new detections in other states dealing with this pest.

It is important to follow up on reports from homeowners of bugs invading their homes during the fall and winter, which can help with detecting new infestations of BMSB.

Management options for BMSB vary with crop, region, and other factors. Chemical control is used extensively in the mid-Atlantic region where outbreaks of BMSB have caused millions of dollars in damage to produce. This spike in insecticide use has disrupted integrated pest management (IPM) programs for other agricultural and horticultural pests in the region.

However, research is ongoing for developing IPM methods for BMSB that reduce insecticide use, including improved monitoring strategies. For example, entomologists across the U.S. are studying the effectiveness of an improved trap design that combines a clear, sticky plastic backing and a recently identified aggregation pheromone for this stink bug.

Coupled with reliable treatment thresholds that are currently in development, these monitoring traps will enhance estimates of BMSB density in a crop and inform growers of the optimal time to spray to reduce BMSB populations below damaging levels.

Another promising area of research is biological control. The samurai wasp, Trissolcus japonicus (Ashmead) (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae), has been identified as a key natural enemy of BMSB. This tiny wasp attacks and develops within BMSB eggs.

The situation with BMSB in Oklahoma will be updated as we learn more about its occurrence and impact within the state. Meanwhile, if you observe BMSB in your county, please notify Dr. Eric Rebek (eric.rebek@okstate.edu), State Extension Specialist for Horticultural Insects, Mr. Charlie Konemann (gotbugs@okstate.edu), Insect Diagnostician for the Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostic Lab, or contact your local county extension educator.

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