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Nuisance Insect Found in Greene County

Rutgers University

There’s a new resident in Greene County. And it’s not welcome here.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky tells us about a recent finding at a home in the area.

In late January, Karen McDonald, a member of the Master Gardeners of Greene County, found a bug in her Greene County home—that’s not unusual, but what was is the type of insect she’d found.  McDonald, who had received training on invasive insects to be able to answer questions that callers to University Extension’s Gardening Hotline have, thought she knew what it was.  But to be sure, MU Extension specialists sent the specimen to the Missouri Department of Agriculture where staff confirmed its identity:  a brown marmorated stink bug.

Patrick Byers, a horticulturalist with Greene County Extension, said they’re a non-native species that originally came from Asia.  The insect is a recent arrival—it was first found reported in the United States in the late 90s—and Byers says it became a pest of impact in 2010.

"The insect has a broad range of plants that it feeds on, and so it's definitely a pest of agricultural and horticultural crops," he said.

He’s concerned about the impact the brown marmorated stink bug could have on Missouri’s agricultural crops.  Most stink bugs, he says, are difficult to manage without using pesticides.  Commercial farmers will likely have to adjust their pesticide spray schedule in the future to deal with the pests.

"They feed on a broad range of plants--vegetables, fruits, agronomic crops.  They also can be a problem for people producing nursery crops, so it's gonna be a widespread issue," he said.

Not only can the brown marmorated stink bug harm crops, they can be an annoyance for homeowners.

"It gathers inside homes and structures in the fall looking for a place to winter, and, when disturbed, they release an unpleasant smell," he said.

Byers said, based on experiences with the bug in other parts of the country where it’s been for awhile, the brown marmorated stink bug could eventually become a problem in Southwest Missouri.

But it will take some time, according to Byers.  He said in other places it’s taken several years before they grow large enough in numbers to cause problems.  Still, he expects the bug to become an issue for area farmers.

The brown marmorated stink bug is identified by light and dark colored bands along the lower edge of its body and by white bands on its antennae.  Byers says that sets it apart from other stink bugs that are native to Missouri.

If you catch one and would like to have it identified, you can take it to the Greene County Extension Office located at the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center in Nathanael Greene-Close Memorial Park.  Hours are M-F 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.  For more information, contact Patrick Byers at 881-8909.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.