Although the damage stink bugs can cause to soybeans in Ohio has the potential to be a significant problem, many growers may be less aware that the insects can also cause injury in corn, says Andy Michel, an Ohio State University Extension pest expert.
While there have been a few reports in the Buckeye state of stink bug injury in some northern Ohio corn fields, growers who have found damage to corn that includes discolored, shrunken and or missing kernels, may find that stink bugs are indeed the culprit, says Michel, who also has an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.
Stink bugs, known for their "sweaty feet" smell when squashed or irritated, have made their way into Ohio soybean fields and now some Ohio corn fields, in addition to invading homes statewide, he says.
"The damage isn't really extensive but growers may see some damage on some kernels," Michel says. "Usually the damage in field corn is localized to scarring on kernels or causing a mottled appearance near the tip of the ear, but severe injury has also been observed.
"Sweet corn is particularly susceptible to stink bugs and exhibits similar damage characteristics."
Michel said damage reports have come in on some corn fields in Wood County and at Ohio State's Waterman Farm in Columbus. The damage to corn crops is mainly caused by green stink bugs, which are native to Ohio, he says. But some of the damage to corn was also caused by the brown marmorated stink bug, which is a fairly new pest to the region.
A native of eastern Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug was first identified in the U.S. in Allentown, Pa., in 2001, says Ron Hammond, an OSU Extension entomologist. The brown, three-quarter-inch-long insects are known to feed on a wide range of crops, including apples, peaches, tomatoes and soybeans.
Likewise, he said, sightings of larger-than-usual numbers of green stink bugs have also been reported in Ohio soybean fields, as well as reports of the red-shouldered stink bug, which is a newer pest in Ohio.