Stink bugs that do more than smell bad

Phil Pellitteri
UW-Extension insect diagnostician
UW Insect Diagnostic Lab
Department of Entomology
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
pellitte@entomology.wisc.edu

(608) 262-6510

Phil Pellitteri talks about an invasive, new insect species to be on the look-out for.

Time – 3:09

0:19 – Introduction to the new stink bug
0:33 – What makes this stink bug different
0:53 – Threat to crops
1:16 – Where the insect is found
1:40 – Stink bug life cycle
2:03 – Origin of the stink bug
2:19 – Potential damage to crops
2:44 – Preventive steps
2:54 – Lead out
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phill_pellitteri_stink_bugs.mp3

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TRANSCRIPT

Sevie Kenyon
Phil, welcome to our microphone. Start out by describing this new bug you’re watching for.

Phil Pellitteri
The species we’re looking for is from Asia and it’s called the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. About 5/8ths inch in size, shield shaped and they have very distinctive markings on their antennae that help us separate them from our native stink bugs.

Sevie Kenyon
What is different about this new bug?

Phil Pellitteri
The first thing is it’s a fall invading insect, so it comes into people’s houses like the multi-colored Asian lady beetle in big numbers, which our native stink bugs don’t. The other side of it though, is that in Pennsylvania where it’s been see for about ten years now it’s starting to turn into quite a crop pest on a number of crops.

Sevie Kenyon
Can you describe threat to crops for us?

Phil Pellitteri
Apples it causes blemishes and kind of a dead, corky tissue. It feeds on sweet corn, it feeds on tomatoes and in soybeans it appears to prevent the beans from drying down.  You know, we’re still learning an awful lot about this; we haven’t had a lot of experience especially from the crop damage. It’s only really been about the last two years that we started to see that in the U.S.

Sevie Kenyon
And where does Wisconsin stand in terms of where this insect is?

Phil Pellitteri
Well, we’re just starting to see the first introductions, we had a couple specimens come in last fall where people either were traveling or received goods from out east and we think they were hitch-hiking, but we did have one sample this spring, where it appears there might have been a number of insects over-wintering in a building, which would suggest a breeding population. You know, whether it’s breeding this year or next year it’s going to be here, we’re sure.

Sevie Kenyon
Could you go ahead and just outline steps of this insect’s life cycle?

Phil Pellitteri
Over-winters as an adult, lays a cluster of eggs about twenty or thirty on plants, little barrel shaped eggs and they hatch into little tiny stink bugs that tend to feed in groups. That’s quite common for them to do that, and they have a piercing, sucking mouth part and that’s what’s causing the damage and problems on the fruit. And it probably takes them normally about six weeks to go through a generation.

Sevie Kenyon
And, what is the origin this invasive species?

Phil Pellitteri
They’re native to Asia and so typical of these invasive insects is that in the countries they are normally found they are not much of a pest. But, boy… once this insect moves in it comes to the top five very quickly.

Sevie Kenyon
And when we talk about plant damage, how much damage are we talking about?

Phil Pellitteri
They had almost 100% crop loss in peaches out east and apples in some of the orchards, almost as much. The good news, I think in Wisconsin, is that we’re probably four or five years away from seeing high enough populations to start to experience some of these problems. But again, if it evolves like it did out east, it’s going to gain momentum and become more problematic down the road.

Sevie Kenyon
Are there preventive measures we can take here in the state?

Phil Pellitteri
Well, this one is a tough one, because the insect is such a good hitch-hiker. Until they start doing something out of the ordinary they’re not going to get people’s attention and by that time, unfortunately, I think we’re gonna have problems.

Sevie Kenyon
We’ve been visiting with Phil Pellittari, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin Extension, in the college of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin… and I am Sevie Kenyon.

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