Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

March 27, 2015 Sara Gavin

As the weather turns warmer, stink bugs stowed away for the winter in houses and buildings will start to seep out of cracks and crevices much to the dismay of residents all over the region. Before simply getting rid of the pests, however, scientists at the University of Maryland are urging people to collect them and donate them to research.

Galen Dively, Ph.D., an Extension specialist in integrated pest management and entomology professor at the university, says his lab collected roughly 13,000 stink bugs last fall, most of which died due to a suspected virus that causes colony collapse.

“We really need bugs,” says Dively, who heads up a team of graduate students all dedicated to studying the invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) and figuring out how to eradicate it. “If you have a large stink bug population in your home or office or school, our lab would really appreciate you capturing the little critters.”

Dively suggests collecting the bugs in household items like plastic food containers or old coffee cans, throwing a piece of apple inside for food and poking holes in the lid. However, he cautions not to throw the bugs together inside confined spaces like Ziplock bags as the pests will “stink” each other to death. Dively and his colleagues are offering to come pick up collections of at least 50 stink bugs or more. Contact the researcher at galen@umd.edu or 202-812-9828.

The BMSB was accidentally imported from Asia to North America in the late 1990s and with few known natural enemies in this country, quickly became a nuisance inside homes, office buildings and warehouses. Although the insect doesn’t bite humans, it lays hundreds of eggs during its lifetime and is particularly dangerous to farmers because of the fact that it will feed on almost anything.

While the BMSB is known as more of a nuisance in the summer and fall months, Dively says it only takes a couple of warm days to coax them out of their winter hiding spots. Dively and his research team are currently studying some of the BMSB’s natural predators – parasitic wasps who feed on the bug’s eggs – and testing the effectiveness and safety of various spray treatments.