It’s the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and it’s been detected in my garden. And, yes, I did a little freak out when I saw it. It isn’t a very nice insect to have.
According to UNH’s Anna Wallingford, Extension State Specialist, Entomology & IPM, “BMSB is an invasive insect that was accidentally introduced to the US some time ago. It was first reported in Pennsylvania in the 90’s where it was mostly considered a nuisance pest. By the early 2000’s it was considered an agricultural pest in the mid-Atlantic states. In 2010, tree fruit and vegetable growers saw catastrophic losses due to BMSB damage.
Piercing-sucking feeding by huge numbers of stinkbug adults and nymphs leaves fruit bruised and beaten up, sometimes shriveled, definitely unmarketable. It’s really hard to distinguish BMSB feeding damage from native stink bug damage, other than the sheer scale of damage when outbreaks happen. BMSB has remained a serious pest for mid-Atlantic growers and parts south – in crops like peach, apple, sweet corn, tomato, peppers, raspberries, snap beans…holy moly, you name it and this stinkbug loves it.”
Two days ago, I was observing the hydrangea blooms for other pests that have overwhelmed our garden this September… bald faced hornets and yellow jackets that seem to be attracted only to hydrangea blooms. I’ve never seen so many. They dive deep into the flowerhead and you’d never know they are inside until they pop to the surface. Needless to say, I haven’t cut any blooms for arrangements this year.
I was photographing the pesky yellow jacket above when I noticed an unusual stink bug scurrying across the flowerhead behind this one. Whoa! Could that be a BMSB? I’d only seen pictures of the insect before this, but I knew those white sections on the antennae are the best giveaway.
It was moving fast and ducked behind flower petals within seconds. I caught a couple of unfocused photos before it disappeared and I sent them off to UNH. I heard back that, although blurry, the photos do indeed look like a BMSB.
The agent wrote, “That certainly looks like a brown marmorated stink bug, although I can’t be 100% certain due to the photo quality. It wouldn’t be surprising, given that they are known to reside in the Seacoast region. Their numbers have been fairly low this year, but they are still present.”
And he added, “At this point they may be laying eggs, so you may look for clusters of their light green, barrel-shaped eggs on the underside of leaves.”
The BMSB is categorized as a “nuisance” insect in NH, but with milder climate in the Seacoast region, experts say it’s just a matter of time before we will have larger problems especially with fruit orchards! According to reports, it’s not time to freak out yet and it’s reassuring that the good folks at UNH are keeping an eye on the problem. If a serious problem arises in New Hampshire, they will let us know. Meanwhile, I’m watching my two tomato plants a whole lot closer!