NC State Extension Publications

Background

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys; BMSB) is an invasive pest native to eastern Asia. It was first detected in the United States in Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. Since then, BMSB has spread across the nation, increasing to large, damaging numbers throughout the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. It was first detected in North Carolina in 2009 near Winston-Salem. Initial invasions usually occur in urban or suburban settings, and BMSB had become a locally abundant nuisance pest in structures throughout the mountains and piedmont by 2012. In some areas, home gardeners found destructive populations on tomatoes, peppers, okra, corn, and other host crops. By 2015, BMSB was causing significant damage in a variety of commercial crops.

As of January 2018, BMSB was confirmed present in 70 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, there have been very few reports of BMSB in the coastal plain. Some preferred wild hosts include (but are not limited to) tree-of-heaven, paulownia, catalpa, wild cherry, and black walnut.

For the most current information on BMSB research in North Carolina, visit the BMSB in NC web page.

Map showing North Carolina counties with BMSB

North Carolina counties with BMSB

Description

BMSB is often confused with the native brown stink bug, dusky stink bug, rough stink bug, squash bug, and other hemipterans (see pictures of look-alikes here). However, it can be distinguished easily by whitish bands on the antennae and legs. Bands on antennae are apparent in both adult and immature forms. Mature adults are approximately 5/8 inch (17mm) long after progressing through 5 nymphal instars, which range from 1/10 to 1/2 inch (2.4 to 12mm) long. Eggs are each about 1/25 inch (1mm) in diameter (generally larger than those of native stink bugs) and are laid in masses that contain 28 eggs on average.

BMSB adult on apple.

BMSB adult on apple.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

BMSB adult.

BMSB adult.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

4th-instar BMSB nymph.

4th-instar BMSB nymph.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

2nd-instar BMSB nymphs

2nd-instar BMSB nymphs.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

1st-instar BMSB nymphs hatching from egg mass.

1st-instar BMSB nymphs hatching from egg mass.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

BMSB egg mass.

BMSB egg mass on a section of bean leaf.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Annual Life Cycle in North Carolina

BMSB overwinter in dry, confined spaces. In nature, dead trees or fallen logs serve this purpose, but if homes and other buildings are available, BMSB will eagerly enter them, often aggregating in attics and other dark spots. BMSB is the only stink bug species that seeks out human-made structures as overwintering sites. In April and May, adults emerge and move into wooded areas, where they feed and reproduce. In the early summer months, many adults and nymphs migrate to other habitats, including agricultural fields and home gardens. Both adults and juveniles will move among crops, and soybeans are among the preferred hosts late in the season. By mid-September, adults disperse to overwintering sites, and on sunny days are often observed aggregating on the outside of buildings.

BMSB on corn, Lincoln Co., NC, late July.

BMSB on corn, Lincoln County, North Carolina, late July.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

BMSB on peach in Henderson Co., NC, August.

BMSB on peach in Henderson County, North Carolina, August.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

BMSB egg mass (hatched) on corn, Lincoln County, NC, mid-August

BMSB egg mass (hatched) on corn, Lincoln County, North Carolina, mid-August.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

BMSB nymphs on corn, Lincoln Co., NC, August

BMSB nymphs on corn, Lincoln County, NC, August.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

BMSB seeking entry into house near Statesville, NC, early Octobe

BMSB seeking entry into house near Statesville, North Carolina, early October.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Damage in Agriculture

BMSB has a wide host range and potentially can become a major agricultural pest in many fruits, vegetables and row crops. Like all stink bugs, they have piercing, sucking mouth parts, and in addition to removing plant cell contents while feeding, they secrete enzymes that kill tissue. Damage has been most commonly observed on tomatoes, peppers, okra, apples, peaches, and corn, and is expressed as misshaped, discolored fruit. On some crops, such as peaches and corn, damage may not be apparent on the exterior of the fruit, and is only observed when the fruit is cut open. There is also evidence that BMSB can transmit microorganisms that cause some fruits, such as pepper and tomato, to rot.

BMSB damage on apple exterior.

BMSB damage on apple exterior.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Apple cross-section with BMSB damage

BMSB damage in apple cross-section.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Apple slices with BMSB damage (left) versus corking (right).

Apple slices with BMSB damage (left) versus corking (right).

Steve Schoof, NC State University

BMSB damage to peach interior, with no visible exterior damage

BMSB damage to peach interior, with no visible exterior damage.

J. F. Walgenbach file

Stink bug damage on bell pepper.

Stink bug damage on bell pepper.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Stink bug damage on ripe tomato.

Stink bug damage on ripe tomato.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Stink bug damage on green tomato.

Stink bug damage on green tomato.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Management

Insecticides are currently the most practical option for managing BMSB in agricultural and home garden settings. Insecticides belonging to the pyrethroid and neonicotinoid classes are most effective. Naturally occurring biological control agents, primarily predators, can help to reduce populations, with BMSB eggs being the stage that is most vulnerable to biological control. Research is being conducted to develop additional management strategies, including the use of trap crops, pheromones to attract and kill stink bugs, and other cultural management approaches.

For more information on BMSB control, including tips for dealing with populations inside homes and other structures, visit the FAQ section of the BMSB in NC webpage.

BMSB eggs eaten by predatory insects.

BMSB eggs eaten by predatory insects.

Rachel Suits, NC State University

Parasitized BMSB eggs.

Parasitized BMSB eggs.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Anastatus reduvii (parasitic wasp).

Anastatus reduvii (parasitic wasp).

Dylan Tussey, NC State University

Telenomus podisi (parastic wasp).

Telenomus podisi (parastic wasp).

Dylan Tussey, NC State University

Pheromone sticky trap to monitor BMSB beside an orchard

Pheromone sticky trap to monitor BMSB presence on the edge of an apple orchard

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Author:

Extension Entomology Specialist (Fruits/Vegetables)
Entomology

Publication date: Feb. 23, 2015

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