The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 5, 2013

Stink bugs could mount a comeback this spring


As residents, farmers and growers have welcomed the respite from the stink bugs, entomologists have been busy continuing their research, Leskey said. Much about the bugs is still unknown, and scientists are eager to develop a better understanding of the environmental conditions and natural predators that might affect the insect's population.

"We are finding that there are a number of different predators and parasites that are attacking them, and it varies according to the different crops and landscapes," Leskey said.

Despite the progress of ongoing research, Bergh said the region is "not out of the woods" yet.

"We don't see any pronounced indications of natural enemies suppressing brown marmorated stink bug populations as effectively as we would need to breathe a sigh of relief," he said.

Leskey noted one particularly hopeful development: Within the last year, scientists have identified and synthesized a pheromone emitted by the bug. Traps baited with the synthetic compound serve as an effective lure, allowing scientists and farmers to better detect their presence, she said.

"That tells growers that the bugs are in the area. It's an early warning tool, so they know that they need to make management decisions" such as whether to apply insecticides, she said.

Beyond serving as a warning system for farmers, Leskey said, identifying the pheromone will also allow entomologists to more effectively track the population, movement and activity of stink bugs throughout the season — opening the door to a deeper understanding of the insects and how to control them, she said.

"We'll start to be able to look at their seasonal patterns, and better understand what they're doing," she said. "It's a really exciting development."

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