Brown Marmorated Merry Christmas!


This (not-so) Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) was encountered during the Christmas display setup at Longwood Gardens.  This bug had been overwintering among decorations in a barn.  While the ornaments were being painted silver, it was found crawling away with a new festive look.

For me this photo marks the beginning of a new adventure.  In 2012 I will be working with the USDA on biological control of Bown marmorated stink bug.  The bug was introduced from Asia to Pennsylvania in 1998, and is well known in much of the United States as a Autumn home invader.

Halyomorpha halys finding its way inside

Many people do not realize that this indoor nuisance is a serious agricultural pest of soybeans, corn, fruit trees, and other crops.  In 2010 Pennsylvania stink bugs caused an estimated 25% crop loss in apple orchards.  The USDA is evaluating several species of wasps that attack stink bugs to determine if they are effective against the pest but safe for other organisms.  More on that to follow in the coming year.

Incidentally, silver spray paint works as a feeding preventative but does not quickly kill stink bugs, leaving me ample time to take photographs.  It did eventually die, prompting the declaration that it was 'the ghost of Christmas pest.'


Anonymous at: December 28, 2011 at 11:04 AM said...

Great post! I liked the picture and the life-change significance it heralds.

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