Stink bugs prompt AgBioResearch scientists to establish control measures

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Two Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch entomologists have secured MSU AgBioResearch's Larry Gutalmost $110,000 in combined grants to help farmers combat the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an invasive species recently identified in Michigan that poses a significant threat to several fruit crops.

Larry Gut, a professor in the MSU Department of Entomology, received more than $64,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to identify key “invasion fronts” where pest management programs can be enacted and effective control treatments for Michigan tree fruit that fit into integrated pest management programs.

Matthew Grieshop, an assistant professor in the MSU Department of Entomology, received nearly $46,000 from the USDA for a proposal on the development and delivery of organic pest management for BMSB. Both projects seek to determine control measures MSU AgBioResearch's Matthew Grieshopfor BMSB with minimal environmental impact.

The presence of BMSB, native to eastern Asia, was confirmed in Michigan in early 2011. BMSB is a shield-shaped insect with distinctive bands of white on its antennae. The bug is named in part for its ability to secrete a pungent odor from holes on its abdomen. The smell, often described as a strong cilantro scent, helps protect the bug from being eaten by birds and lizards.

Michigan’s fruit industry is valued at $309 million annually and includes about 111,000 acres. Experts project that BMSB could cause up to $92 million a year in damage to Michigan’s fruit industry if management programs are not established. 

Gut will survey at-risk crops, including apples, peaches, cherries, grapes and blueberries, to determine the presence of BMSB within the state. He will also identify effective control treatments for Michigan tree fruit. A website featuring real-time information will also be created for growers to consult.

BMSB has caused significant damage to crops in other states, including New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Grieshop will identify primary BMSB issues for organic farmers and establish online resources for farmers and researchers. He plans to work with organic farmers and researchers in 14 states.

Photo: MSU AgBioResearch’s Larry Gut (top) and Matthew Grieshop.

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