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MSU Nets Grant for Stink Bug Control Research
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Two MSU entomologists have secured almost $110,000 in combined grant funds to help farmers combat the brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species newly identified in Michigan that poses a significant threat to several crops, specifically fruit.


Source: Michigan State University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Contact: Holly Whetstone at 517-355-0123

 

Stink Bug Signals Agricultural Alarm; MSU Researchers Net Grants to Establish Control Measures


Two Michigan State University (MSU) entomologists have secured almost $110,000 in combined grant funds to help farmers combat the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an invasive species newly identified in Michigan that poses a significant threat to several crops, specifically fruit.

Professor Larry Gut received a $64,096 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) specialty crop block grant to identify key “invasion fronts” where pest management programs can be enacted and effective control treatments for Michigan tree fruit that fit into integrated pest management (IPM) programs. Assistant professor Matthew Grieshop received a $45,695 USDA organic planning grant to prepare a multi-disciplinary, multi-state, multi-commodity full research and Extension proposal on the development and delivery of organic pest management for BMSB. Both projects seek to determine control measures for BMSB with minimal environmental impact.

The presence of BMSB, native to eastern Asia, was first confirmed in Michigan in early 2011. BMSB is a shield-shaped insect with distinctive bands of white on its antennae. The bug is named in part for its ability to secrete a pungent odor from holes on its abdomen. The smell, often described as a strong cilantro scent, helps protect the bug from being eaten by birds and lizards.

Michigan’s fruit industry is valued at $309 million annually and includes about 111,000 acres. Experts project that BMSB could cause up to $92 million a year in damage to Michigan’s fruit industry if management programs are not established.

Gut will survey at-risk crops, including apples, peaches, cherries, grapes and blueberries, to determine the presence of BMSB within the state. He will also identify effective control treatments for Michigan tree fruit that fit into current IPM regimens. A website featuring real-time information will also be created for growers to consult.

BMSB has caused significant damage to crops in other states including New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

“Mid-Atlantic growers have experienced a minimum of 25 percent crop damage with up to complete crop loss due solely to this invasive pest,” said Gut, an MSU AgBioResearch scientist and MSU Extension specialist.

Grieshop, also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist and MSU Extension specialist, will identify primary BMSB issues for organic farmers and establish online resources for farmers and researchers. He plans to work with organic farmers and researchers in 14 states.

“Conventional farmers using IPM practices, including powerful synthetic organic insecticides, are struggling to manage BMSB, and there are currently no viable solutions for organic farmers,” he said.

Gut said there is concern because some growers have already had to abandon less aggressive control measures for more drastic ones.

“They’re using broad-spectrum neurotoxins in an attempt to save their crop from high populations of BMSB,” he said. “This is detrimental to predators, parasitoids and pollinators, and it increases the environmental footprint of fruit production. It could set pest management back 30 years.”

BMSB was discovered in the United States in Pennsylvania in 1998. The insect has quickly spread to most eastern states, as well as Oregon and California. It can be a serious pest of fruits, vegetables, field crops and ornamental plants. The bug destroys fruit by piercing the surface and sucking out juices while injecting saliva. The suction and saliva create a dimpling effect that renders the fruit unsalable for the fresh market.

“Taking a proactive approach to management may help to slow the spread and impact of this pest,” Gut said. “The experience of other states tells us that BMSB may become a serious pest, if not the most serious pest of Michigan tree fruit within the next two to three years.”

For more information on BMSB, visit http://news.msue.msu.edu/news/article/how_to_identify_a_brown_marmorated_stink_bug.