Once the fall swarms of brown marmorated stink bugs disappear, everybody's happy. But where'd they go – South for the winter? Where?
Researcher teams at USDA's Agricultural Research Service now believe they have the answer, and their findings may help farmers manage the pest. "We know BMSB aggregate inside human-made structures in very high numbers," says Doo-Hyung Lee, research team member at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in West Virginia.
"However, in the natural landscape, BMSB are spread out. They can be anywhere. They can remain unchecked by any management strategies, spreading randomly and building their population."
Lee and other team members randomly mapped out plots of Maryland and West Virginia forest, then explored these areas for BMSB hideouts. After searching among dead trees and leaf litter, they found 26 aggregations of BMSB – a 3% find rate.
Then they homed in on what seemed to be BMSB's preferred winter setting: large, dry, dead standing trees, particularly oak and locust, with porous dead tissue and peeling bark that gives BMSB a place to into. Voila! BMSB winter refuge was discovered in 33% of such trees.
So now what?
Since 11% of trees in the rural natural landscape have potential to harbor BMSB, improving the tracking ability of BMSB movement from woodland into ag areas is critical. Based on Asian studies, Lee says, BMSB is able to fly long distances and find new cultivated crops readily.
The next step is to mount tiny antenna on a bug's back and track it on harmonic radar. Tagged bugs can be detected up to about 164 feet.
Man's best friend will also be joining in the defense effort. Lee predicts that dogs trained to detect the BMSB scent (That shouldn't be hard.) will make it easier to monitor and manage BMSB in ag areas.
For more on how to defend against future BMSB outbreaks, click on:
"Biology, Ecology and Management of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Specialty Crops"
Article provided by Chris Gonzales of the Northeastern IPM Center.