Is our problem with the brown marmorated stinkbug (halyomorpha halys) or Asian stinkbug unique in Mississippi? If not, how have farmers worldwide coped with a shared nuisance?
Even though other writers have focused on this invasive pest, interested local residents might feel less isolated and vulnerable to the Asian nuisance by knowing its current status related to other world ecosystems. (I just sprayed one crawling near the ceiling with alcohol and water—1 to 3 parts.)
Today, internationally, scientists conduct research to find best methods for controlling Asian stinkbugs in both our Mississippi landscape and in European countries.
Blake Layton, an entomology specialist at Mississippi State University, has published information in Volume 5, Number 11 (online) that shows pest control measures. And, in 2017, Dr. Layton conducted field research, asking residents in this area to report numbers of Asian stinkbugs. This is a major control method used in at least one other country.
The previous year, in 2016, entomologists in Great Britain predicted the BMSB, preparing for a costly emigration/infestation. They had had around twenty years to study their threat. From China, Japan, and South Korea, hidden in cargo arriving in Pennsylvania, the pests had landed to increase (four reproductions each summer) since the 1990s. Then, from the U.S. in 2012, the stow-aways are thought to have reached Italy.
Since 2008 and 2012 Spain and Italy have reported much-feared invasions, as there is no natural Continental predator. And, months ago, the European Commission approved emergency support to farmers in regions of Italy where the voracious bug caused 500 million euros of damage in 2019. Although Italian farmers still worked in their fields, pest monitoring, a major strategy for control, had to be suspended for a while due to the lockdown from coronavirus (EU Joint Research Centre).
How or why is this applicable here? Orchards filled with fruit like apples, peaches, or apricots could be spoiled by our Asian menace, gorging on their preferred outlying outer trees. And in rural areas, they eat such crops as soybeans, too, along with over 100 other plant species.
Notably, Italians have invested over 10 million euros in protective nets, considered essential, for their orchards. One source stated that these nets with chemicals imbedded in them are their best preventive measure and much-needed. Those controls seem to be an effective protection due to Europe’s restricted chemical use (Environmental Protection Agency).
Most agricultural experts say that care should be taken to avoid over-spraying as this imported pest seems resilient. One writer for The New York Times told of spraying and seeing armored bugs on the ground all around…Within minutes they rose and flew off. Continuing, she stated that these have no analogy for their smell…They smell like stinkbugs. That might lead a homeowner to try any method to eradicate them. But, with chemicals, caution is best.
Working to protect the environment and eradicate the destructive bug, scientists continue their controlled testing. At Rutgers University Ag Research and Extension, research has been on-going. A peach orchard showed “signs of the gorging of unripe fruit as wounds ooze clear, sugary goo and form brown blemishes.” In New Jersey and in Delaware, unless scientists find their native enemy samurai wasp to be non-threatening to the environment, they will continue to wing their way into homes, often in large numbers. (Spraying can help kill them, but those in hiding may still emerge in the spring.). Meanwhile, in Italy, the government did approve using the samurai wasp as a preventative.
What are other options? There is more focus on monitoring international products entering each country...Phytosanitary treatments refer to the health of plants with respect to international trade. As in other countries, in New Zealand biosecurity officers on the alert have found more than 2,500 stink bugs at its border, mainly on vessels and cargo.
So, the war continues through field research with one scientist seeing a plus in this fight— He feels that it has spotlighted entomology. For example, 35 scientists in 115 sites across 18 states have studied traps that might detect brown marmorated stinkbugs.
Ultimately, then, world travel and trade have brought Northeast Mississippi Asian stinkbugs with an appetite for over 100 species of plants—inside the house or “al dente.”
Sources for this and further research include CNN Money, Entomology Today, and Politico.