Stink bugs hurt late season crops

Oregon crops hard hit by stink bug damage

August 30, 2013

Oregon State University researchers warn of an increased risk of damage to late-ripening crops this year after discovering record levels of the brown marmorated stink bug, a newly established invasive pest in Oregon.

Harvest for many crops, including blueberries, raspberries, apples, pears, hazelnuts, grapes, sweet corn, peppers, and beans is looming and the fact that the pest has shown an appetite for more than 100 different crops is not good news for these plants.

Late-season feeding and contamination by adult stink bugs and nymphs can result in discoloration of fruit, vegetables and nuts- ultimately sullying the crops’ value at the marketplace. While no economic damage from the pest has been documented thus far in Oregon, OSU researchers worry that could change after this summer.

Halyomorpha halys, better known as the stink bug, was accidentally introduced into the United States in 1998. Being known as an invasive species in recent years, this bug has infested homes from the East Coast to the Midwest, causing significant damage as an agricultural pest. The pest has damaged millions of dollars of crops on the East Coast.

“Pre-harvest is a time when stink bugs are more likely to infest crops and lay eggs because late-stage crops are an attractive food source, “ said Nik Wiman, an OSU research entomologist. “The adults and nymphs cause blemishes when they feed on ripening fruit, nuts and vegetables, rendering them unmarketable.

“Even low levels of infestation can result in crop losses,” said Vaughn Walton, an entomologist at OSU. “Stink bugs in commercial crops can lead to increased management costs, pesticide use and outbreaks of secondary pests. There’s no question stink bugs could be an economic issue.”

In addition to problems on the West Coast, stink bugs are affecting the rice harvest in Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

OSU is one of 11 institutions studying the brown marmorated stink bug in a project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additional supporting funds are from the Oregon Hazelnut Commission, as well the Oregon Blackberry and Raspberry Commission.

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