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Stink bugs invade Southwest Michigan, endanger fields and orchards

22 October 2014, 8:20 am EDT By Dianne Depra Tech Times
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It looks harmless but the brown marmorated stink bug has already wreaked havoc in Mid-Atlantic states. It could do the same to Southwest Michigan if the pest increases in numbers.  ( David R. Lance )

After Pennsylvania, brown marmorated stink bugs have been eating their way through Southwest Michigan.

Residents weren't expecting the stink bugs because they weren't detected by surveillance traps along the way set by the Michigan State University Extension's statewide monitoring program. After the brown marmorated stink bug first appeared in the area in 2011, the monitoring program was set up to warn residents early should the pest begin to show up in massive numbers.

"Except for a few hotspots in Berrien County and two instances of suspected fruit damage by BMSB in Berrien County and eastern Ottawa County, evidence of BMSB was extremely hard to find. Only four out of the 64 traps checked this past week captured any BMSB - all were in Berrien County," said the MSU report.

Because the stink bug wasn't detected by the monitoring program, this means that pest levels are low enough not to cause concern. However, this doesn't seem to be the case for residents of Southwest Michigan. Even though an official warning has not been released, they're very much feeling the presence of brown marmorated stink bugs in their homes.

The stink bugs are notorious for devastating orchards and crops but they are also making their way into homes, much to the annoyance of residents in the area who can't figure out how the bugs are doing it.

The only consolation here is that stink bugs don't bite and are not dangerous to humans. They will be very annoying to deal with but at least people won't get sick from being around the bugs.

As an invasive species in Michigan, the stink bug joins feral pigs, the zebra mussel, and the emerald ash borer beetle. It generally starts feeding in late May or towards early June, consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Some of the common host plants for the stink bug include: green beans, apples, peaches, raspberries, cherries, pears, and soybeans.

Considered a true bug, the brown marmorated stink bug is a sucking insect that utilizes its proboscis to penetrate a host plant and feed. Because of the manner by which it feeds, necrotic or dimpled areas on fruits are usually observed.

The brown marmorated stink bug has already devastated Mid-Atlantic states with its voracious appetite and it has the potential to inflict the same kind of damage to Michigan if the pest is allowed to thrive. Unfortunately, it's possible for tens and thousands of stink bugs to congregate overnight.

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