Stink bug a heap of trouble for agriculture

Stink bug a heap of trouble for agriculture

The brown marmorated stink bug makes a big stink — literally. It's a major agricultural threat and USDA has estimated $21 billion worth of crops are at risk.

It doesn't usually make the 6 o'clock news--or even the 10 o'clock news — but it's trouble.

Trouble, indeed.

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha hales), a native of Asia, was first discovered in the United States in Allentown, Penn., in 2000.

Since then, it's been making a big stink. Literally. It's a major agricultural threat that feeds on vegetables and fruit, says UC Davis associate entomologist/chemical entomologist Jeffrey Aldrich. USDA has estimated $21 billion worth of crops are at risk. This includes apples, peaches, tomatoes, grapes, cotton, corn, green peppers, soybeans and other crops.

Aldrich also calls it a "pervasive residential nuisance." It may select your home as its wintering site, creating an infestation. That prompted The New York Times to declare "Move Over Bedbugs: Stink Bugs Have Landed."

Aldrich will discuss the insect's invasion and its semiochemistry at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, May 1, from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Professor Frank Zalom and Ph.D candidate Kelly Hamby of the Zalom lab are the hosts.

Aldrich will describe the history of the discovery; its subsequent spread across the country; and also detail the discovery of the bug's chemical communication system and ongoing pheromone commercialization efforts. He then will present results of laboratory experiments using native egg parasitoids exposed to the stink bug eggs.


Want access to the very latest in agriculture news each day? Sign up for the Western Farm Press Daily e-mail newsletter.


An expert on BMSB,  Aldrich established that the insect in the U.S. is cross-attracted to the pheromone of a congeneric species; he facilitated commercialization of this cross-attractant lure; and he led the team that identified the pheromone of the BMSB.  The research is potentially useful in systems to mass trap and/or attract-and-kill BMSB. 

Aldrich's 40-year career on insect chemical ecology has taken him to Brazil, Australia, Japan and Italy.  He served as a research entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agricultural  Research Service, Beltsville, MD, from 1980 to 2011, including five years as a laboratory research leader (1999-2004).

His work has been published in such journals as Science, Journal of Chemical Ecology, Chemoecology, and Environmental Entomology. He also travels around the nation and world, presenting lectures at technical organizations, universities, government agencies, and to lay groups.

A member of the Entomological Society of America since 1972, Aldrich is a past president of both the International Society of Chemical Ecology and the Entomological Society of Washington, D.C., and was appointed associate editor of the Journal of Chemical Ecology in 2009.

The New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Discovery, U.S. News and World Report, and Organic Gardener have interviewed him about his work. In addition, he's been interviewed by a number of radio and TV stations in the United States and Brazil.

The May 1 seminar should be a real eye-opener about a major agricultural pest that continues to invade the United States. If you miss the seminar, plans call for video-recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV Seminars website.

More from Western Farm Press

Dairy farmer blends vodka from cow’s milk

Lettuce industry abuzz over automated thinner

Dirty Dozen pesticide list losing ground to science

PETA drones a trophy prize for US hunters

5 things moms get wrong at the grocery store

Water issues drive precision agriculture solutions in specialty crops

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.