|Stink Bug Crisis|
According to recent reports, the brown marmorated stink bugs, which tend to emerge as the weather gets hotter, have invaded 38 states and the Pacific Coast.
The stink bug epidemic has prompted the U.S. Congress to allocate $831,000 to fund a research about the pests and ways to control them.
The brown marmorated stink bug was accidentally introduced into the United States from China or Japan. It is believed to have "hitched a ride" as a stowaway in packing crates. The first documented specimen was collected in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in September 1998.
It is called a stink bug because it has scent glands on its body and leaves an unpleasant odor if crushed. It feeds on crops, rendering them unsellable, and the damage it causes provides entry points for pathogens. It spreads by hitching rides on vehicles.
One recent study by the U.S. Apple Association estimated that nearly $37 million has been lost by apple growers in four Mid Atlantic states - Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania - due to stink bug infestations.
The higher than normal population of the stink bugs has reportedly caused the following environmental problems:
- The insects have started attacking fruit and trees in orchards in southern and eastern Pennsylvania, which had not been seen in previous years.
- Bugs pierce the fruit’s outer surface and suck out juices while injecting saliva. The suction and saliva create a dimpling of the fruit’s surface, and rotting and corking of the flesh underneath.
- The fruit is not salable because of appearance although the dimpled area is not poisonous to humans.
- The bugs attack numerous types of plants—including tomatoes, soy beans, lima beans and sweet corn—but fruit show the damage more quickly and orchard owners monitor for damage more closely. Little is known about what these insects do in the wild.