Bug Raising A Stink In Oregon

Marmorated stink bug threatens late-season crops.

Published on: Sep 10, 2013

There's a late harvest threat lurking in the crops of Oregon.

Pest watchers are keeping a close eye on the marmorated stink bug, and alerting the industry that the risk of damage to late blueberries, raspberries, apples, pears, hazelnuts, grapes, sweet corn, peppers and beans is high.

Actually, the list goes on longer, stretching to about 100 different crops, warns Vaughn Walton, an Oregon State University entomologist. "Even low levels of infestation can result in crop losses," he says. "Stink bugs in commercial crops can lead to increased management costs, pesticide use and outbreaks of secondary pests.

"There's no question stink bugs could be an economic issue."

Oregon State University grad student Chris Hedstrom is part of the research team tracking the stink bugs spread throughout the state. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)
Oregon State University grad student Chris Hedstrom is part of the research team tracking the stink bug's spread throughout the state. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

Late-season feeding and contamination of crops by stink bugs and their nymphs can result in unmarketable nuts, fruit and vegetables due to discoloration. While no economic damage from the stink bug has been documented this year in Oregon, OSU researchers worry that could change during the next few weeks.

The pest is a relative new threat in the U.S., having arrived here in the late '90s, and since spreading to 34 states, including Oregon where it was originally discovered in 2004.

The pest has left a wake of millions of dollars in crop losses in the eastern U.S.

OSU's statewide survey for the bug continues and early returns show higher populations in nearly every part of the state. While the bug was established near Portland and in the Willamette Valley, and in the fruit-intensive Hood River and Wasco County regions, its range has increased to rural environments and many farms.

Most recently, the pest established a significant presence in the Columbia Gorge and southern Oregon.

The latest information on the pest may be found on line at http://BMSB.hort.oregonstate.edu.