UMass Extension Fruit Program Invasive Pests

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Introduction


The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål), is a voracious plant-eating pest that is damaging fruit, vegetable, and ornamental crops in North America. BMSB was accidentally imported from Asia to North America in the late 1990s.  The earliest sightings were in Allentown, PA.  This bug quickly became a nuisance pest, overwintering in homes, office buildings, sheds, warehouses and in wooded areas. With few natural predators and an abundance of food sources, the invasive insect spread quickly. By 2004 the stink bug was widely identified on farms and in forests. In 2010, the invader caused catastrophic damage in many mid-Atlantic states, with some growers of sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, apples, and peaches reporting total losses that year. In 2011 the stink bug continued to present season-long and significant problems for growers in that region.  Sightings and trap captures of BMSB have been increasing in states to the north as well. 

Extension scientists in NY and MA have been setting out traps baited with pheromones for 2-3 years, with fairly sporadic, low numbers of captures (more in NY in 2012).  In the early years of an area’s invasion, the most sightings and captures come from private dwellings, sheds, roadsides, and automobiles.  The insect populations build up for a few years in the woods, feeding on seeds and fruits (any source of carbohydrate or protein) and move into crop lands later in the season as they exhaust food supplies where they are.  In Fall 2012, a few were trapped in peaches in Hampden County, MA, near Springfield, and others were sighted near-by in apples.  In May 2013, using an improved pheromone being developed by the USDA, entomologists in the NY Hudson Valley have trapped higher numbers in the edges of woods next to tree fruit.  In MA we are expanding our network of trapping sites and will be using the improved pheromone. 

Trap captures will be a good indication of BMSB activity in the environment of the orchard edge, but they are not yet reliable indicators of insect damage in the crop.  Direct observation of bugs and feeding damage is necessary for that.  Scouting in peaches and cherries (and later in apples, sweet corn, peppers) at the wooded edges of fields is recommended.  The robust qualities of BMSB and the ecological niches in which they are thriving here make them very hard to kill with reduced-risk insecticides.  A return to harsher chemicals has been necessary in many agricultural settings.  An extensive team of scientists is studying stink bug behavior in order to deploy sustainable controls such as traps and lures, biopesticides, and natural enemies against BMSB.

Also see:
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension fact sheet FS002 (PDF file).

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
ID and Biology Monitoring Management