Nov 1, 2010
Brown marmorated stink bug a dangerous pest

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Administrator Ed Knipling and other agency experts met with representatives from the apple and other agricultural industries last week to address the impact of a rapidly emerging orchard pest – the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). The discussion was organized by the U.S. Apple Association (USApple) and hosted by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Originating from Asia in the late 1990s, BMSB made a dramatic appearance during the 2010 harvest, wreaking significant damage and losses in as many as 30 states. Thus far, BMSB has proven difficult to control and capable of impacting a broad spectrum of agriculture, from apples and peaches to tomatoes, peppers and corn.

USDA researchers at the meeting presented these facts:

1. BMSB is extremely mobile, with the adult populations demonstrating rapid movement from crop to crop in mere hours.

2. It has shown itself to be widely adaptable in the United States, with economically significant damage caused in states from north to south.

3. It feeds on (and causes damage to) an exceptional number of crops.

4. It has apparent resistance to the most commonly used pesticides, and pesticides must directly contact the pest (no residual effectiveness).

5. The fact that feeding and damage occurs from all five growth stages of the insect, in addition to the damage caused by adults, greatly magnifies its destructive potential.

USApple Director of Industry and Regulatory Affairs Mark Seetin opened the conference with a brief overview of how BMSB has impacted U.S. apple growers since harvest began in mid-August.

“This stink bug is one of the worst pests to ever appear in America’s apple orchards and other agricultural segments,” Seetin said. “The immense crop devastation combined with the bug’s remarkable resilience could present a significant challenge for years to come.”

USDA researcher Tracy Leskey elaborated on BMSB characteristics and the potential extent of the threat. She presented the latest results of research being conducted to determine which existing pesticides are most effective in combating BMSB.

Knipling explained the steps USDA is taking to address the situation and assured discussion participants that the agency is committed to finding a solution to the BMSB problem.

In September, the House Agriculture Committee held a briefing on BMSB for Congressional staff and members. USApple is urging policymakers in Congress and at USDA and EPA to act quickly, including providing adequate funding for an expanded emergency research effort on the BMSB threat.

To view an informational video about the BMSB, click here.

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