According to a report by Connecticut entomologists, an invasive species of stink bug poses a major threat to the state’s and the nation’s agricultural industries. The bug in question, the brown marmorated stink bug, is a native of Asia that was accidentally introduced to the United States in the 1980s, most likely by hitching a ride in packing crates.
It is this ability to adapt to new environments that makes the bug so problematic. According to entomologists, the stink bug is a “natural hitchhiker,” infesting shipping crates, mail containers, RVs, trucks, and other containers. This ease of travel is what helped the bug migrate to the U.S. in the first place and is what makes it so threatening to U.S. agricultural production as a whole.
The stink bug eats about 70 plant species grown in the U.S., including corn, apples, peaches, tomatoes, and soybeans, a vital feed crop for both domestic use and international exports. The stink bug feeds by injecting digestive juices into crops. This process creates brown spots on plants that are safe for human consumption, but not approved for sale on the market.
Scientists are currently working on potential solutions to the stink bug problem. Current insecticides have been deemed as impractical due to the negative effect they would have on bee populations, themselves in decline. If anything, the difficulty that scientists have had in combating the stink bug serves as an example of the importance of a well-funded agricultural research sector. Without the proper funding and resources, agricultural scientists cannot hope to continue fighting future threats to the American agricultural sector.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer