ROANOKE, VA (WDBJ7) - (3/6/2019) - They can be stinky, annoying, and even destructive.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, BMSB for short, has remained a growing pest for the United States since it first began its explosion in Virginia a decade ago.
Discovered in the U.S. in the late 1990s, the BMSB has had a long journey from its native land in Asia. With little to no predators in the United States, the population of these bugs boomed in 2010, immediately cementing it as a major agricultural and household pest.
Due to its extremely versatile appetite and costly destruction of crops, this stink bug has moved to the top of the list for researchers to find a solution.
"The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is, I would say, being widely considered by people who work in this area as one of the significant invasive pests in recent memory," said Chris Bergh of Virginia Tech University, who is one of many collaborative researchers in the U.S. who are tirelessly working towards finding a solution to this pest.
Specifically, his team is studying the introduction of the BMSB's top predator in Asia, the Samurai Wasp. This very tiny wasp has effectively controlled populations of the stink bug in Asia and could be the best solution to problems in the U.S.
The wasp has recently found its way into America on its own and could reduce the populations of the stink bug, according to Bergh.
"Given it continues to be present, and establish, and spread, and build in numbers in our area that it will over time exert the same positive effects on BMSB as it has in the native range."
The Samurai Wasp is a parasitic wasp that lays its eggs inside the eggs of BMSB. Once the wasp eggs hatch, they feed on the larvae of the stink bugs and help control the population of the bugs in Asia.
Bergh hopes that, in time, the wasps will have the same appetite here in America on the stink bugs and finally reduce what has been an explosive and uncapped growth.
The good news is that there are indications that BMSB populations are already going down in Virginia due to other management methods. However, populations of the stink bugs are spreading and rising in other states and countries prompting a great need for a solution.
If you have concerns about the Samurai Wasp, rest easy. The wasp is no larger than a speck of dirt and is harmless to humans!