NC State Extension Publications

Background

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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 by 2012 BMSB had become a locally abundant nuisance pest in structures throughout the mountains and piedmont. In some areas, home gardeners found destructive populations on tomatoes, peppers, okra, corn, beans, apples, peaches, and other host crops. By 2015, BMSB was causing damage in a variety of commercial crops, and it is now a regular pest on many farms.

As of January 2020, BMSB was confirmed present in 75 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, BMSB has not become well established 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 North Carolina web page.

Map of North Carolina showing counties with confirmed BMSB

North Carolina counties with confirmed BMSB.

Description

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BMSB is often confused with the native brown stink bug, dusky stink bug, rough stink bug, squash bug, and other hemipterans. However, it can be distinguished easily by the whitish bands on its antennae and (in some life stages) 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. Individual eggs are 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

Look-alike species: Brown stink bug (Euschistus servus).

Look-alike species: Brown stink bug (Euschistus servus). Note lack of white bands on antennae.

Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Look-alike species: Dusky stink bug (Euschistus tristigmus).

Look-alike species: Dusky stink bug (Euschistus tristigmus). Note lack of white bands on antennae.

Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org

Look-alike species: Consperse stink bug (Euschistus conspersus).

Look-alike species: Consperse stink bug (Euschistus conspersus). Note lack of white bands on antennae.

Steven Valley, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org

Look-alike species: One-spotted stink bug (E. variolarius)

Look-alike species: One-spotted stink bug (Euschistus variolarius). Note lack of white bands on antennae.

Hanna Royals, Museum Collections: Heteroptera, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Look-alike species: Rough stink bug (Brochymena spp.).

Look-alike species: Rough stink bug (Brochymena spp.). Note lack of white bands on antennae and flatter body.

Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Look alike species: Squash bug (Anasa tristis).

Look alike species: Squash bug (Anasa tristis). Note body shape more elongated than BMSB.

Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

Annual Life Cycle in North Carolina

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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 aggregate in attics, garages, behind picture frames, in tarps and curtains, and in 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 early summer, some adults and nymphs migrate to other habitats, including agricultural fields and home gardens. Both adults and juveniles will move among crops as plants grow and mature. Soybeans, for example, have few BMSB when plants are young, but become a preferred host late in the season. In mid-September and October, adults begin dispersing to overwintering sites, and on sunny days they are often seen on the outside of buildings. This is the time of year when homeowners generally experience the biggest invasions of bugs.

Diagram of brown marmorated stink bug in North Carolina

BMSB life cycle in North Carolina

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, in early October.

Steve Schoof, NC State University

Damage in Agriculture

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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. Damage sometimes does not appear on the surface for up to two to three weeks after BMSB have fed.

On apples, BMSB damage can appear similar to hail damage and bitter pit spotting.

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

Early "pinprick" BMSB damage

Early "pinprick" BMSB damage

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

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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. Home gardeners should look for products containing the active ingredient bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or lambda-cyhalothrin. Organic gardeners have very limited options and may need to spray frequently to target BMSB in its immature stages. Organic products like Azera (a mixture of azadiractin and pyrethrins) and Entrust (active ingredient spinosad) have shown activity in research trials.

Naturally occurring biological control agents can help to reduce populations, with BMSB eggs being the stage that is most vulnerable to biological control. Native species of tiny parasitic wasps such as Anastatus reduvii and Telenomus podisi have done little to control BMSB, but an Asian species, Trissolcus japonicus, has much more promise. T. japonicus has been discovered in the US (presumably after being imported accidentally with BMSB) and scientists are studying ways to use it in biological control projects.

Research is also being conducted to develop additional management strategies, including the use of trap crops, pheromones to attract and kill stink bugs, and other cultural approaches.

For control in homes and other structures, insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving large numbers of dead BMSB inside attics or walls can lead to further infestations of unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to remove individuals with a vacuum as they appear in living spaces and discard them after placing them in a freezer or drowning them in a dish of soapy water. When all BMSB have left the structure in spring, seal all entry points (torn screens, cracks and gaps in window frames, etc) so bugs cannot return in autumn.

In the garden, BMSB usually attack tomatoes, peppers, okra, green beans, soybeans, corn, Swiss chard, peaches, apples, pears, plums and caneberries (i.e., most common crops). Damage consists of discoloration at the feeding site; rarely is plant vigor affected. Control is difficult due to the limited effectiveness of insecticides and a constant influx of BMSB from outside areas. Pyrethroid insecticides are most effective, so choose products that contain the active ingredient bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or lambda-cyhalothrin. Options for organic growers are even more limited and require frequent sprays (possibly every couple of days under intense pressure) that target immature BMSB. Organic products that have shown activity include Azera (mixture of azadirachtin and pyrethrins) and Entrust (active ingredient spinosad). Some researchers and organic growers have also tried “trap-cropping,” the practice of growing BMSB-preferred host plants (such as sunflowers) around the actual crop in hopes of diverting stink bugs away from important fruits and vegetables. Results have been mixed and more work is needed to make this method effective.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
In the garden, BMSB usually attack tomatoes, peppers, okra, green beans, soybeans, corn, Swiss chard, peaches, apples, pears, plums and caneberries (i.e., most common crops). Damage consists of discoloration at the feeding site; rarely is plant vigor affected. Control is difficult due to the limited effectiveness of insecticides and a constant influx of BMSB from outside areas. Pyrethroid insecticides are most effective, so choose products that contain the active ingredient bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or lambda-cyhalothrin. Options for organic growers are even more limited and require frequent sprays (possibly every couple of days under intense pressure) that target immature BMSB. Organic products that have shown activity include Azera (mixture of azadirachtin and pyrethrins) and Entrust (active ingredient spinosad). Some researchers and organic growers have also tried “trap-cropping,” the practice of growing BMSB-preferred host plants (such as sunflowers) around the actual crop in hopes of diverting stink bugs away from important fruits and vegetables. Results have been mixed and more work is needed to make this method effective.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
How do I kill BMSB in my house? Insecticide sprays are not always effective due to the mobile nature of the stink bugs, the constant influx of new stink bugs from outside, and the difficulty of treating populations without contaminating living areas. In addition, leaving a large number of dead BMSB inside attics, walls, or crawl spaces can attract more unwanted pests, such as carpet beetles. A better method is to drop captured individuals into a dish of soapy water to drown them, or to vacuum them and then freeze or discard the vacuum bag. Some homeowners with large infestations keep a hand-held, battery-powered vacuum just for BMSB removal. Admittedly, this can be time-consuming, but it is often the best option. Try not to squash or agitate BMSB in the house, which only worsens the smell, or to live-release them outdoors, where they will eventually come back inside. BMSB in attic insulation BMSB in attic insulation How do I keep BMSB out of my house to begin with? In summer, after overwintering stink bugs have left the house but before they return in autumn, seal all potential entry points with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam sealant. Check for gaps around windows and doors, place screening over attic ventilation louvers, and make sure there are no gaps or cracks around faucets and piping. An excellent University of Maryland video demonstrates “Exclusion and Execution” techniques for BMSB invaders.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
In the garden, BMSB usually attack tomatoes, peppers, okra, green beans, soybeans, corn, Swiss chard, peaches, apples, pears, plums and caneberries (i.e., most common crops). Damage consists of discoloration at the feeding site; rarely is plant vigor affected. Control is difficult due to the limited effectiveness of insecticides and a constant influx of BMSB from outside areas. Pyrethroid insecticides are most effective, so choose products that contain the active ingredient bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, or lambda-cyhalothrin. Options for organic growers are even more limited and require frequent sprays (possibly every couple of days under intense pressure) that target immature BMSB. Organic products that have shown activity include Azera (mixture of azadirachtin and pyrethrins) and Entrust (active ingredient spinosad). Some researchers and organic growers have also tried “trap-cropping,” the practice of growing BMSB-preferred host plants (such as sunflowers) around the actual crop in hopes of diverting stink bugs away from important fruits and vegetables. Results have been mixed and more work is needed to make this method effective.

Read more at: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/faqs-brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
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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