As if there were not enough challenges to face in Ohio agricultural production, a new one may be on the eastern horizon.
“The brown marmorated stink bug has been expanding westward from the east. This was first found in Pennsylvania about 10 years ago and has been expanding westward across the soybean growing regions,” said Andy Michel, assistant professor at OARDC and Ohio State University Extension with a specialty in soybean insect management. “We have found some of these populations in Ohio. We typically find them first in homes. They have a behavior similar to that of the multicolored Asian Ladybeetle where they overwinter near homes. The pictures I’ve seen from out east are pretty dramatic where people are sweeping the stinkbugs off of their front porches into five gallon buckets.”
They can explode into large populations and they have a diverse and large appetite.
“The are important pests of many agricultural commodities like fruits, field corn and soybeans,” Michel said. “In soybeans, they cause a deformation of the seed, impact the yield and they also cause the green stem syndrome where the plants remain green and they are more difficult to harvest.”
The stink bug has been found in Ohio, but not at the levels required for economic damage to crops.
“The situation in Ohio is that we have collected some but most of them have been near homes. The Columbus area seems to have the highest numbers. The only marmorated stink bugs in soybeans we have seen are at the Waterman Farms on the Columbus campus of OSU where the damage has been quite dramatic,” he said. “It is on the radar. We know its here and we know what kind of damage can occur. It is perhaps only a matter of time before we start seeing damage in our crop fields.”
Another insect of potential concern for Ohio agriculture is the kudzu bug, or bean plataspid.
“It is prevalent in the Southeastern states. Georgia, the Carolinas and Alabama seem to be the hardest hit by this bug. It is not technically a stink bug, but it is a close relative and it can be found in significant populations in soybeans. It is spreading in the southeast, but is not in Ohio yet. It also has an aggregation behavior where overwintering can be done around homes,” Michel said. “They may have found the kudzu bug in Tennessee and it does appear to be expanding. We have been scouting fields for both the stink bug and the kudzu bug and we have not found the kudzu bug in Ohio. Next year we are expanding our scouting efforts across Ohio and we are going to key in on the southern part of the state where we may see the first to see kudzu bug and in the eastern part of the state where we may first see significant damage from the brown marmorated stink bug.”
For more, see the related article in the upcoming mid November issue of Ohio’s Country Journal.