Battling stink bugs
Stink bug feeding on corn ear. Photo by Gordon Johnson, UD

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11:54 a.m., Sept. 24, 2010----The University of Delaware has seen a recent increase in the number of phone calls regarding stink bugs infesting homes. Although stink bugs do find their way inside homes in the fall, looking for a warm place to spend the winter, they do not cause house hold damage, and are harmless to humans and animals.

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Your best bet to keep the stink bugs out of your house? Caulk and seal windows, cracks, crevices, screens, and vents. Pesticides are rarely warranted; when applied, they seldom last more than a week to 10 days. The length of protection will vary because of the amount of rainfall received post-application.

Because stink bugs are primarily a threat to fruits and vegetables, stink bug research at UD is limited to that of an agricultural nature. In recent years, native stinkbugs have caused increased agricultural damage in Delaware.

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) (Halyomorpha halys), a nonnative stinkbug, has recently been spotted in Delaware. It is a relatively new pest in North America. Sometimes called the yellow-brown stink bug or the East Asian stink bug, it was first collected in the United States in Allentown, Pennsylvania during the fall of 1996.

UD entomologists in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources say that this insect was first reported to occur in northern New Castle County Delaware in 2001. In 2010, it was found at very low levels for the first time in soybean and lima bean fields in all three counties in Delaware.

Currently, the University of Delaware is a member of a BMSB Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Working Group funded by the USDA's Northeast IPM Center. Members of this group include researchers, extension personnel, growers, pest control operators and a hotel manager.

At the first meeting in June, members shared research results, field observations and established research and extension priorities. This group hopes to secure funding for improving management of the important agricultural and urban pest.

Additional UD research will be scheduled for 2011 if BMSB populations increase in agricultural crops.

For more information about BMSB, please refer to information from universities found at the following websites:

Penn State University

Rutgers University

University of Maryland

Ohio State University (PDF)

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