You've probably seen the brown marmorated stink bug on screen doors or other areas around your home or shop this fall, or at least there is the chance you have, depending upon where you live. One bug was reported a year ago. Several sightings in Tippecanoe County have been confirmed this year. Not surprisingly, they're all by entomologists that work at Purdue University. Other folk may assume there just another bug, and not recognize the distinctive features. They may also not realize the importance of knowing where the pest is and what it could do in the future.
Christian Krupke and john Obermeyer, Purdue University Extension entomologists, say it's worth knowing if the pest is in your area or not. It's not that difficult to distinguish for a regular stink bug if you look closely, they note. The antennae have two white patches and there are alternating white and dark patches on the rear of the insect.
Krupke and Obermeyer are so interested in knowing where the pest is in Indiana, that they are urging people to call them if they find one. If you're not sure if it is or not, send them a picture electronically. If you see one, record the date, time and exact location.
Tracey Lesker, a USDA-ARS researcher in Maryland, has studied this bug extensively, and conducted experiments with it around their location. She will present findings at the Indiana Certified Crop Advisors conference on December 21.
The reason the two Purdue entomologists are talking about this bug this late in the season is not what it will do this year- that's now limited to being a nuisance – but for what it could do in the future. "It's the Real McCoy when it comes to being a threat to ag corps in the future," Krupke says.
The pest is classified as invasive. Loosely translated, that means it can come into an area in large numbers once it reaches the area. If there's a silver lining to this story, it's that it could likely be four or more years before the bug reaches numbers that cause it to be a serious threat to farm crops in Indiana, the pair of entomologists conclude.
The down side is that based on current information, it likely will become an important pest in Indiana at some point. That's why they're encouraging people to pay attention to it now.