WSU Prof Says Stink Bug Populations Could Grow
Thanks to climate change, stink bug populations may grow. Washington State University Entomology Professor Javier Gutierrez has been studying how the changing climate could affect the migration patterns of the brown marmorated stink bug giving the pest an advantage. The brown marmorated stink bug originated in Asia and was introduced to the United States roughly 20 years ago, spreading to 46 states across the country. This stink bug is a generalized herbivore and eats 170 different plants.
A recent modeling study in the Pest Management Science journal showed that changing weather patterns could provide favorable habitat changes for the stink bug by 70%.
Data in this study was compiled through three years of monitoring stink bugs in 17 states, which accounted for several hypothetical climate scenarios.
“There's certain places like Spokane Valley and some places in Yakima will be presumably more affected by the stink bugs,” Gutierrez explained. “But the most important thing about this type of stink bug...is that it eats everything, so many crops are affected, like apples, eggplants, corn, hazelnuts, very different crops are affected by this species.”
Researchers have already started deploying samurai wasps to fight stink bug populations in some states, including Washington. The wasps lay their own eggs inside stink bug eggs, which destroys them and they later eat the other unhatched eggs. Habitat factors that help stink bugs include proximity to populated areas once they move and availability of water.
Conditions may lead to a stink bug migration to the north, particularly in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, the mid-Atlantic areas surrounding the Great Lakes, along with areas in the Sacramento Valley in California. Even though the stink bug does not favor the cold, increasing rain and precipitation can still play into their migration patterns. Gutierrez recommends that growers use WSU’s Decision Aid System, an online tool that helps provide updated information on their agricultural systems.
“We're in a changing time, so most growers get their information from their parents or the previous generations. So, because the climate is changing, and everything is changing so rapidly, the information that many growers have, if not all, nowadays is not incorrect but inaccurate,” Gutierrez said. “Because the distribution of the species where they used to occur, might not be the place that they will occur. That's the reason why apart from spraying at the right time, new tools are going to be very important in the future.”
Growers are also advised to visit this Website to learn more about stink bugs.
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