The brown marmorated stink bug has yet to become a problem for California agriculture but examples around the United States show it’s just a matter of time.
Experts say it’s a matter of when and not if California can add the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) to the list of dangerous agriculture pests. Cal Poly State University professor David Headrick says its reputation in other states should concern fruit growers in California.
UC Integrated Pest Management (IPM): BMSB Damage
Brown marmorated stink bugs primarily damage fruit and are a serious pest of many fruit and fruiting vegetable crops. In Asia, BMSB is reported to feed on over 100 host plants, including tree fruit, vegetables, shade trees, and leguminous crops. In the mid-Atlantic, the crops most affected are apple, pear, peach, nectarine, lima bean, snap pea, pepper, sweet corn, tomato, field corn, and soybean. Other identified crop hosts include raspberry, blueberry, grape, hazelnut, pecan, cucumber, and pole and bush bean.
The stink bugs also feed on fruit or seed pods of ornamental tree and shrub species, especially tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa), Catalpa (Catalpa spp.), English holly (Ilex aquifolium), Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), redbud (Cercis spp.), and Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis). The feeding effect on tree health, particularly young trees, is still being evaluated. A list of over 170 host species, including those that attract the highest densities, can be found at StopBMSB.org. The list of host plants will likely increase as the pest spreads to new regions.
BMSB may reach very high numbers, and since one bug can feed on many fruit sources, losses can be severe. Adults and nymphs inject tissue-destroying enzymes and suck juices from fruit and seeds, creating pockmarks and distortions that make fruit and vegetables unmarketable. Damaged flesh under the skin turns hard and pithy. They can also feed on buds, flowering structures, leaves, and stems, including feeding through the bark of the branches and trunks of young trees. Read more from the UC IPM website.