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Stink Bug Crisis: Congress Sniffs Out a Solution

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Stink Bug Crisis: Congress Sniffs Out a Solution
[ Science]

The stink bug crisis that’s ravaged orchards and vineyards has spread to 38 states, prompting the United States government to research ways to deal with the menace, according to the Washington Examiner. The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) has been dealing a considerable amount of damage to East Coast agriculture, damaging apple, peach, and grape crops at an alarming rate. Apple growers in the Mid-Atlantic region have reportedly lost nearly $40 million since the odorous insect has taken up residence there. Unless something is done to squash the problem, crops continue to be in serious danger.

“Clearly these bugs are spreading and they are more than just a nuisance because they smell. They have the potential to devastate crops – apple crops, peach crops, grapes. We have to get a handle on it,” Rep. Frank Wolf explained.

In order to stop their rampage, $831,000 has been set aside to research what can be used turn the proverbial tide in the war against the stinky insect. Our potential hero: a tiny Chinese bee, which, according to scientists, lays its eggs in stink bug eggs, effectively killing them. What happens when the bee is done laying waste to their arch enemies remains to be seen.

The situation, according to Wolf, is becoming a very large problem, prompting Congress to push the Agricultural Department to step up research. “The language in the farm bill is designed to keep pressure on the department to address problem, which is spreading,” Wolf explained. “We have seen reports that they have appeared in at least 38 states.”

The stink bug, in case you were wondering, gets its name from the smell it emits whenever it feels threatened. This is used to prevent birds, lizards, and other predators from using the insect as a food source. Even handling the bug can result in the emission of the odor, which, according to Wikipedia, smells like cilantro. However, anyone who has ever come into contact with the bug will tell you that it has an odor all its own.

Stink Bug Crisis: Congress Sniffs Out a Solution
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  • Eric

    Stink bugs have been a major pest in my garden this year in Texas. Of the corn, tomatoes, peppers and squash they OVERWHELMINGLY preferred the squash. They seem to get shelter from the leaves and feed on the plant as well as the squash itself. I wonder if planting a small plot of squash near other agriculture could lure them in to be poisoned, burned or otherwise eliminated. Just my two cents. Until a solution is found, I may try to use them as bait next time I go fishing… try to make lemonade out of lemons.

    • Bets

      and soybeans…the height of the season is not here yet. Late July-early August…they prefer dry, hot weather. I live behind a farm & this year, you guessed it, soybean crop is planted….it has been a little dry this year…I am going to hate the rest of the summer…

  • Bob

    Just like the Commie chinks to send us all their stinking sh** in poisoned pet food and milk, and thse stinking bugs, too. Keep ur sh** on that side of the ocean you SOBs!

    • Bets

      love the intellectual reply..

  • http://WebProNews Charles

    Because Florida State U extension office gave me no pesticide remedy, I bought the cheapest hairspray and squirt them. This limits their flying ability so I can kill them by hand.

  • http://yahoo Sigrid Holland

    Surely there is a better solution than introducing a bee into the mix. Haven’t we learned anything.

    • http://huh? Donna Barner

      I so agree. Killer bees!!! Doesn’t anyone remember?

  • TJ Slims

    I do not like your writing. “Even handling the bug can result in the emission of the odor, which, according to Wikipedia, smells like cilantro. However, anyone who has ever come into contact with the bug will tell you that it has an odor all its own.” Why must you color your writing with such presumptuousness? I have seen a stink bug and I agree with wikipedia. Why are you essentially misquoting me to your readers?

    • bumbo

      go screw yourself

  • http://MSN Michelle

    I too have had a huge problem with these little stinkers. My normal non evasive solution has been one that my Grandma taught me. A jug of water with a bar of Ivory soap. It melts and makes a good pestiside, you just refill the jug when needed. Everytime I water it just washes off. Apply as often as needed. This solution isn’t working on these insects. They completely demolished all of my squash and zuccini plants. And they do have a smell all of their own. Yuk!!!

  • bumbo

    Oh my don’t think about an insecticide. Better millions go hungry than to offend god and kill bugs. Stupid effing liberals.

    • Bets

      Hey bud, just go away…your solution is no solution….jackass!!

  • http://yahoo Debra Holt

    Stop sinning, these plages are in the Bible. All the sin in the earth removing your creater God out of everything, no relationship with Jesus, homeasexuals wrong, killing babies, fornication, greed, and so many other sins. People wake up if you are tired of God’s wrath stop your nasty sinning.

    • Bill

      Debra,

      You’re insane. Stop living in the 14th century.

  • Sue

    Deborah, your crazy.

  • Diana Spencer

    Debra Holt – you’re an idiot. Just go away.

    • Sandy

      Be careful what you write. They said the same thing to Noah! Oh that’s right you don’t believe in the bible.

  • Sasha

    Hey there, Diana Spencer and Sue. There’s no need to use such fowl language against someone you don’t even personally know. Debra’s comment may not suit your believes; however, she has the right to express herself freely. At least she did say what she wanted to without insulting anyone else. I’m so sick and tried of cyber bullies, just like you two, who think they can smash everyone who doesn’t share their opinions. Start putting some real value into your lives, please. You may not agree with her, but you can’t proof her wrong, either, so let it rest!

  • Roger

    We never learn from our mistakes. Scientists released a beetle to control kudzu in the south. Oh, it attacks kudzu alright, but guess what else? SOYBEANS.
    Grasshopper mice are vicious little SOB’S that grab the bugs and ram them butt first in the ground and then eat them from the top down. But grasshopper mice are so VICIOUS. they catch and eat other mice, snakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders.. they are sort of like a miniature Tasmanian Devil and I am not sure I would want them everywhere either.

  • Teri

    PLEASE keep religion, politics and race out of this. JEEZE. How can you bring such divisive ideas into a scientific article? Do you just sit and wait for articles to be published so you can bash liberals or conservatives or Chinese or whatever? For once could you make some sort of intellectual comments? THANK YOU, Eric! Someone made a real comment with insight and intellect!

  • Andra

    Before we import bees, of all things, to handle this stink bug problem, someone should check with the birds in PA. We are outside of Pittsburgh and were over-run by those stink bugs…then they all but disappeared–some of our birds have stepped up to the plate and are eating them. I don’t know which ones, but I’m thankful. (I understand in some areas further south than me, but not very far & still in PA, they are still a big problem. They need to figure out which birds are taking care of this…they’re already here.) Seriously, I might see 2 or 3 a week. Last year, they coated the car. Good job birds!

  • Vicky

    Heard about the oddest remedy when they were invading our home by the handfulls last year – get water and dishwashing liquid (Dawn was the recommend but it was thought any liquid would work). So I had several bottles of the water mixed with Dawn. I’d seen a video showing that it kills them but WOW…it’s like hitting them with a serious insecticide. They can’t fly fall to the floor and die within a minute. You got to have a good amount of the soap – there’s something in the soap that does it because they are not drowning. Was told to keep spraying them with the mix and pass along the remedy. Haven’t see ONE alive yet this year…but I’ve got my bottle ready since it was constant last year.
    Btw, was reading that there are a number of theories why they aren’t such a pest in the places they’d invaded in 2010 and 2011, and definitely predators stepping up such as mantis’, spiders and birds as well as climate leading to fewer eggs have all been speculated to have help greatly by entomologists.

    • Stink-me-not

      Hi folks,
      I grew up in rural western PA and was intrigued to learn that certain birds are eating these stink bugs, and that they respond fatally to being sprayed with mixtures of Dawn dish detergent and water. We had a slew of various insects in our wooded backyard, but these pesky stink bugs have been on the scene there, since at least 1986. I remember these stinkers because I captured one for a required bug collection project in high school, for biology class.

      Out of the 25 different species of insects that I captured for the bug project, the stink bug was particularly resistant to the usual formaldehyde substance in the jars used for capture. This bugger did emit a foul odor. Sure didn’t smell like any cilantro I’d care to eat. (No offense to the folks who wrote the Wiki article). These bugs have a very tough exterior shell and apart from being resistant to traditional forms of pesticide, they aren’t easy to squash, either. I only know this because I’ve recently witnessed a group of kids having a casual, bug-stomping contest. Apparently, the stink bug prevailed. : )

      In Biology class, almost every kid had a stink bug in their high school bug collection project. We all knew what they were back in 1986 (long before internet or Wikipedia), so this leads me to believe these things have been here for a lot longer than many may realize. They weren’t as big of a problem back then, but neither were their new partners in household attic crime…the nasty, orange ladybug beetles with no spots (which also emit an odor, will bite, and they coat the attics in our neighborhood every year like something in a horror flick).

      I find it interesting that this stink bug is finally gaining widespread recognition as a pest. In 2007-2008, I think one of my dogs even developed respiratory allergies to the stink bug. It wasn’t uncommon for her to snap up a bug if it invaded her space. The look on her face after first tasting a stink bug was priceless. She never made that mistake again. If she’d have had a choice between eating a stink bug and cilantro, I’d have bet the farm that she’d have chosen the latter.

      Western PA has many such foreign insect pests that wreak havoc on crops, trees, flowers, homes, people and pets. I’ve seen dozens of praying mantis insects in my backyard over the years. Those used to be rare and protected. It would be an interesting war of the species if the mantis turns up to be the predator that kills the stink bug. They should breed more mantis. They’re already here and don’t seem to do any widespread damage. Bees are already a problem in our neighborhood. I cannot imagine more of those being imported to battle the stink bugs. If just the eggs of the tiny China bees are potent enough to kill the eggs of Stink bugs, what else would they kill when they reached adult strength?

      I’ve found more stink bugs inside than outside, in the past three years, but it’s a mystery what they’re feeding on inside. People have declared an all out war against the orange ladybugs without spots, but nothing seems to keep them at bay for very long. Both are very resilient and tenacious pests.

      In addressing some of the other posts on this thread, I’ve read them all and I have only to say this, if all the people in the world with internet access actually did something constructive with it…that would solve most of the world’s problems in one massive swoop. Use your resources wisely people…be part of the solution!

      I would be interested to know if these stink bugs work as fish bait. They have such strong body armor, they could probably be useful for something. Stink bug earrings, anyone? : )

  • Turtle

    DDT would eliminate the stint bug, fire ants, bedbugs and several other pesty critters if the EPA would allow it back on the market. DDT was banned based on incorrect, faulty data that was published in the early 60s. Ticks and fleas create adhoc in African nations when DDT was banned. Once again the USA government is interfering.

    • Bets

      Yes, that is the solution, using chemicals….I don’t think so…this is the problem….we need a natural predator, not more chemicals.

  • http://yahoo bob

    $831,000.00. What the hell is that? We spend billions of dollars each day wasting money and American lives in Afganistan and all that we could come up with for a health crisis in our own back yard in the US is a lousy $ 831k? That literally stinks.

    • Bets

      yes it literally does. This bug smells like cilantero, sweaty men and old socks….and when 3,000-4,000 are in your bedroom it is the most putrid smell of all….Obviously Mr. Hoyer should lobby for more money, but these congressmen have more pressing issues I guess…

  • Rusty

    Why don’t we give China a call and ask them?

  • Sharon

    In the last days: there will be earthquakes in diver’s places, wars, and rumors of wars, evil will be called “good”, and good will be called “evil”, diseases without cures, and pestilences that will become plagues. ~God’s Word.. aka… The Bible

  • randolph newhouser

    Since we can’t cure cancer w/billions of $’s, let’s at least put a few of those $’s into stink bug research.And while we’re at it let’s go after those flying carp.Too much partying and not enough learning.
    Things havn’t changed much in forty years. Guilty! The Dolphin.

  • randolph newhouser

    Yeah,Sharon’s got the right approach.Let’s all go insane.Try the Koran, maybe thev’ve got the right idea.Blink,Blink

  • randolph newhouser

    One more thing,what is a “diver’s place?”

    • Tony

      It means, ” different ” places. You find the word used in the Bible.

  • lc

    I believe the correct spelling is “diverse” not Diver’s.