Saturday, June 25, 2011

Guest pest: BMSB

No, it isn't a jam band or a bowel disorder, it's the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. This smelly, crunchy devil is causing quite the stir and stench among farmers, homeowners, and agricultural agencies.

Quite seriously, though, the BMSB has the potential to be a tremendous nuisance to farmers and gardeners. So far it has been identified in 30+ states.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
(photo courtesy of

Eating...everything...particularly vegetable crops such as corn and beans and orchard fruits. The nymphs or young bugs feed shallowly on leaves and such, while the adults may burrow deep to feed into fruits such as apples or grapes. During winter months, they can invade homes in search of shelter.

Management: Floating row covers are the best defense against this scary chomper which is immune to many pesticides. Hand picking bugs into a container of soapy solution is effective for controlling the bugs on a small scale. Some websites recommend sucking 'em up with a vacuum...then what? I find that knocking bad bugs and beetles to the ground and crunching them between two rocks is also a good way to guarantee mortality...just be sure to hold your nose.

Color they turn your fingers when squished:
Hmm...not sure about the color, but pretty sure you don't want lingering stink bug stench (which has been likened to antifreeze) on your fingers.

Good bug or bad bug: So bad I can't sleep at night thinking about how bad they are. HOWEVER there are some stink bugs that are beneficial predators. When in doubt, capture the thing and bring it to your local bug nerd or agricultural agency.

Identifying the BMSB can be a bit tricky, here is an great site with extended information and photos. Fortunately, I have not encountered any on the farm, but I am keeping my eyes and nose open.

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