The invasion of the stink bugs in upon us. And this year the little critters may march right into the record books.
Multiple parts of the country are expected to see record numbers of the bugs that are experiencing a continual rise in their populations, reports The Epoch Times. Populations are ballooning in Oregon -- where they threaten crops like raspberries and apples -- and Sacramento is home to California's first reproducing population outside of those found in Los Angeles County.
“This is one of the worst invasive pests we’ve ever had in California,” said Chuck Ingels, a University of California Cooperative Extension adviser in an blog post on the Sacremento population. “These bugs aggregate in such numbers that there are reports of people using manure shovels and five-gallon buckets to dispose of them. The strong, unpleasant odor the insects emit when disturbed makes cleanup still more daunting.”
According to surveys conducted nationwide, researchers have found that population density of the bugs is higher this year is almost every area they are located. The stink bug populations are also increasing faster than expected as they enter their peak season. And their large numbers this year means an equally increased threat for late-season crops that they feed on, details an alert from Oregon State University researchers. Some farmers have already taken to social media to share the damage the pests have already caused to crops.
Worst stink bug damage in corn I've ever seen. pic.twitter.com/pXGA5H2Ain
— Gus Lorenz (@guslor77) August 8, 2013
“Pre-harvest is a time when stink bugs are more likely infest crops and lay eggs because late-stage crops are an attractive food source,” said Nik Wiman, a research entomologist with Oregon State University. “The adults and nymphs cause blemishes when they feed on ripening fruit, nuts and vegetables, rendering them unmarketable.”
Brown marmorated stink bugs for first introduced to the eastern United states during the late 90s, eventually spreading to over 39 states. The states with the largest concentrations of the nuisances -- known as "red zone" states are Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The USDA announced in January that the bugs would likely return in large numbers. The agency cited their strong recovery as the main reason for this prediction.
“Stink bug populations have recovered and in larger numbers,” said Tracy Leskey, an entomologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. ”We’re seeing populations that are about six times larger than they were the previous year. In an attempt to control the bug populations, USDA researchers are testing parasitic wasps that are used in Asia to control the bugs. The wasps testing process will run until 2016, ensuring the wasps won't lead to any additional environmental issues.