A new insect pest that we may begin to see as summer temperatures finally cool down and we go into fall is Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, or BMSB. This insect is a serious problem on many different plants, but we really begin to notice them in the fall when they move into our homes in swarms to overwinter inside, with us.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is a native of Asia, mainly China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. This invasive insect was brought to Pennsylvania, probably on a wooden crate in 1996, and was not found until 2001 in Allentown, PA. BMSB is a stink bug, with their typical shield-shaped body. It is mottled brown color with white lines on the antennae. It also has alternating spots of white and brown down the sides of the wings. BMSB is about 5/8 inches long. There are many other insects and other stink bugs that look very similar so correct identification is important. Bring any suspect insects to your local UNL Extension office for correct identification.
BMSB is a horrible pest that feeds on a wide range of plants including vegetables, fruits, field crops, and many ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials. So basically nothing is safe from this insect, including our homes. Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs will swarm into our homes and on our doors and windows in the fall, just like Multicolored Asian Ladybeetles. Fall and spring are when we may notice these pesky insects most often.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs can cause a great deal of plant damage. They insert their piercing-sucking mouthparts into fruits and vegetables, sucking out the juices. Typically this leaves corky spots or scars on apples or tomatoes. This damage can lead to a reduction in quality, and requires cutting away of damaged fruit sections.
Another very big problem that occurs from Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is that they congregate in our homes in the winter. This insect does not hurt you at all, but large quantities of them are a nuisance to our homes and they can stink, as the name implies. There is not one good method of control for them, it is best to make sure your home is kept sealed up and to use an outdoor insect barrier spray of some sort to combat them before they become a problem. If they do get into your home, the best defense is mostly mechanical, pick them up and throw them away, flush them down the toilet, or vacuum them up. You can use some aerosol sprays in your home if necessary, be sure to follow the label on the spray bottle. If you do get a lot of BMSB in a wall void or somewhere else you cannot reach, do not spray them with an aerosol to kill them, or they will attract other insects that help to decompose dead organisms.
This insect is a new insect pest to North America and was found in Nebraska in September 2010. At this point, the distribution is not widespread in Nebraska. If you think you might have found a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, please bring it to your local UNL Extension Office for identification, and so that we can monitor it's spread.