Pheromone Trapping Program for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

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Pheromone Trapping Program for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug

By Mark Hoddle | June 17, 2013

A Pheromone Trapping Program for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys) Begins in Los Angeles County, California

Brown marmorated stinkbug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys (Hemitpera: Pentatomidae), is an invasive insect pest native to China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. It was first discovered and officially documented on the east coast of the USA around 1998. This pest has also been reported from numerous US states including: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. It may also have established populations in Switzerland and Canada.

A Brown Marmorated Stinkbug pheromone trap set up in Pasadena

A Brown Marmorated Stinkbug pheromone trap set up in Pasadena

This stinkbug has a very broad host range having been recorded feeding on tree fruits, vegetables, shade trees, and legume crops, with a strong preference for apples, plums, pears, peaches, and cherries. It has caused significant economic damage to agricultural crops on the east coast, especially apples. In 2010, this pest replaced key apple pests, such as codling moth, as the primary pest attacking apples, and it was estimated that the economic impact to the apple industry on the east coast of the USA could have exceeded $37 million. Feeding damage results when immature BMSB (called nymphs) and adults puncture fruit with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. This feeding damage causes distortion of developing fruit and is referred to as “cat-facing.”

Brown marmorated stinkbug is a “true” bug, meaning it has piercing-sucking mouthparts (as opposed to chewing mandibles like you would find on a caterpillar or beetle) and it has incomplete metamorphosis whereby nymphs (the immature stages that develop following egg hatch) gradually adopt the adult shape and color each time they molt into the next developmental stage. Butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles, for example, have complete metamorphosis, whereby a larva develops into a pupa (a cocoon or chrysalis) and then emerges as an adult that doesn’t resemble the larva. Brown marmorated stink bug has six immature stages, the egg, and five nymphal stages, before reaching the adult form.

Management programs for this pest are being developed on the east coast and include; (1) biological control agents, (2) pesticide evaluations, and (3) pheromone traps to monitor the presence, abundance, and seasonal phenology of this pest. The biological control program is being developed by the USDA-ARS and is focusing on the use of egg parasitoids sourced from China, part of the pest’s native range. Surveys on the east coast have revealed that native stinkbug parasitoids are not effective at attacking BMSB eggs. This escape from natural enemies may be one potential reason why BMSB has proliferated in the USA.

In addition to damaging crops, BMSB forms very dense overwintering aggregations inside houses, sheds, and garages. Because these bugs have “stink glands” on the dorsal (top side) surface of the abdomen and ventral (bottom side) of the thorax this gives them an unpleasant characteristic odor, especially when disturbed. Consequently, having large numbers entering dwellings and a need to remove them physically can result in high levels of irritation for homeowners.

Detections of BMSB in California have occurred since at least 2005. Finds have occurred from Costa Mesa in Orange County in southern California north to areas around San Francisco. Detections have been made on transport and storage containers, vehicles, plants, boats, and firewood being shipped from the east coast to California. BMSB appears to be able to hitchhike considerable distances on these inedible structures. It is possible there are now breeding populations in and around Los Angeles County, especially the Pasadena area, where there have been reports of large overwintering aggregations forming inside garages.

A Brown Marmorated Stinkbug Crew with a trap at Huntington Gardens in Southern California

A Brown Marmorated Stinkbug Crew with a trap at Huntington Gardens in Southern California

In response to this emerging threat, the University of California Riverside, UC Cooperative Extension, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture have set up a cooperative project with the USDA-ARS to test pheromone traps to monitor for BMSB in Los Angeles County, and additional areas in northern California (e.g., around Stockton in San Joaquin County).

In southern California, trapping programs are being run in cooperation with the LA County Agricultural Commissioner’s office (Gevork Arakelian, the LA County Entomologist), private home owners in Pasadena, the Huntington Gardens and the LA Arboretum.

The trapping program is evaluating different types of lures that BMSB may find attractive in southern California. Identical trials are being run simultaneously over the summer (2013) on the east coast. The goal is to determine which lures are most effective at attracting BMSB and whether these results are consistent between the east and west coasts of the USA. The development of a sensitive and species specific monitoring tool will be very valuable for California as it will allow the detection of small populations before they become abundant and troublesome. Traps will also allow a more precise delineation of areas infested with BMSB in California without having to wait for homeowner reports or a need to undertake difficult and time consuming visual surveys of plants in areas suspected to be infected with BMSB. The next phase of the BMSB program for California will be to begin working with the USDA-ARS on developing a biological control program with egg parasitoids. Starting this program early, before BMSB becomes a severe problem similar to the east coast, could help greatly to alleviate economic losses and minimize the annoyances associated with overwintering aggregations inside houses.

Topics: Brown Marmorated Stinkbug, Invasive Species, Mark Hoddle | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Pheromone Trapping Program for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug”

  1. Paul Monson Says:
    June 17th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    How many sites are projected for LA County ? How long to service a site?

  2. Mark Hoddle Says:
    June 17th, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    We are monitoring three sites, South Pasadena, LA Arboretum, and the Huntington Gardens. At each site we have four traps, a control with no lures, and three different lure combinations. The trials will run until mid-fall 2013. Once we have data on which lures are the most effective for drawing BMSB to traps, these will be recommended for use in CA by parties interested in detecting and monitoring this pest.

  3. Arlene Spector Says:
    August 19th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Which commercial stink bug trap with phonemes is the most affective for use in the home?

    Thank you.

  4. Mark Hoddle Says:
    August 19th, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    At this time there is little good reliable data from experiments to indicate which pheromone/synergist combination are best for monitoring/controlling brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). We are working on this now in southern California, and colleagues are running identical experiments on the east coast. It seems very unlikely that pheromones will be useful for homeowners trying to control BMSB in their gardens. The pheromone traps will be better suited (assuming the BMSB pheromone is attractive enough) to monitoring the presence and population cycles of this pest in commercial orchards to help growers time their management practices so they have their greatest impact. I doubt the BMSB pheromone will be powerful enough to be useful in a control program that relies mainly on this technology. But, as I indicated above, this work is still in its early development and my assessment of the usefulness of the pheromone for BMSB control could change.

  5. John L Says:
    September 11th, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    I have found 3 inside my home over the past week. I’ve lived in the same house for 6 years and have never seen any inside my home and only a couple of times outside. I do have an avocado tree in the front yard and some orange trees in the back yard. Is there any solution for me to trap these myself outside the home?

  6. Mark Hoddle Says:
    September 11th, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Hi John,
    BMSB is likely to become a bigger and bigger problem for folks in southern California with respect to these types of aggregations. They may get worse as winter approaches and temperatures drop as these bug have a habit of invading houses in large numbers to overwinter. I have had two other emails today – Pasadena and West Hollywood – about aggregations of these bugs on fences and the sides of houses. At this time there is nothing we can do regarding mass trapping to drive bug numbers down. The pheromones we have been testing this summer that are discussed in this blog don’t appear to be very effective, at least in the areas where we have been testing them. If you have fruit trees in your garden you may want to check them to see if there are adult bugs sucking juice out of them. In South Pasadena yesterday (10 Sept 2013) I notice adult BMSB sucking juice out of mature kumquats, there were a lot of shriveled fruit on the tree that may have resulted from bug feeding, but to the home owner they may look like water-stressed fruit. I received a similar report today from Sacramento regarding figs.

  7. Alice Says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    We found many Brown Marmorated Stink bugs on the outside of our building . Some found their way inside. I am reporting it because we don’t know if there’s anything we can do to get rid of them. Is there a government agency we can report them to? Our building is in Glendale , California.

  8. Mark Hoddle Says:
    October 6th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    The best thing to do about this is to contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on the web via their “report a pest” web page.

  9. Karis Lee Says:
    April 17th, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    This stinkbug damage is terrible. Every year, agriculture will loose a lot of money, because of the stinkbug.

  10. Mark Hoddle Says:
    April 18th, 2014 at 7:03 am

    You are correct – it has been estimated that in 2010 apple growers on the East Coast of the USA (mid-Atlantic States) lost around $32 million because of BMSB damage. Grapes, berries, tomatoes, peppers, corn, and peaches are vulnerable to feeding damage by BMSB. In California we anticipate BMSB will attack nuts, berries, grapes, citrus, avocados, tomatoes, peaches, plums, pears, etc. These are important crops for California and many homeowners grow these in urban gardens too.

  11. Charles T. Collins Says:
    May 16th, 2014 at 6:58 am

    How many traps are deployed at one site, as a private residence? One trap, or the full array of ones with different pheromones and a control?

  12. Mark Hoddle Says:
    May 16th, 2014 at 7:30 am

    At this time we are evaluating the efficacy of different BMSB pheromones – so on a single property we may have up to four traps present with different combinations of attractants, and a control, which is a blank trap with no pheromones to determine the rate at which BMSB accidentally enters the traps.

  13. Matt Walsh Says:
    December 21st, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Good to see here the pheromone trapping program for the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug which is also known as Halyomorpha halys.

  14. John Hardy Says:
    January 20th, 2015 at 12:53 am

    Nice post.
    Is this monitoring program for BMSB running this year (2015) in California?

  15. Mark Hoddle Says:
    January 20th, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your feedback. Yes, the BMSB monitoring program is running in California for 2014-2015 too. We have now completed two years of monitoring in parts of SoCal and we have just finished monitoring for one season in the San Joaquin Valley, an area of very high agricultural production (e.g., fruits, nuts, and berries – all potential food for BMSB). At this stage, all BMSB finds have been limited to urban areas and the pheromone traps have failed to detect bugs in agricultural zones. This is not unusual for the early stages of an invasion – the pest establishes a foothold in urban areas and then populations build and spread from backyard gardens threatening agricultural crops.

  16. Kevin Lee Says:
    February 10th, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Great to see that this new innovation is being used in the agricultural field. Thank you for keeping us updated on what is going on with this stink bug.

  17. Shawn W. Says:
    July 17th, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Any updates for the best way to combat the stink bug. I see them every day in my garden. First the peaches, nectarines and tonight I am seeing them on my tomatoes.

  18. Dan P. Says:
    November 2nd, 2015 at 12:31 am

    After many irritations with this Stink Bug I have found a European study claiming that using pheromone traps they found useful replants.
    Among these are Clove < works the best! Lemon Grass works second best and Peppermint works a little bit. I tried these separately on 3 sides of the house this fall and Clove works very well I would say about 90% effective. I took cooking Clove added a table spoon to a 1 gallon spray bottle.

  19. Dan P. Says:
    November 2nd, 2015 at 12:41 am

    As an auto mechanic and a home owner I have found these smart bugs under the hoods of cars nestled inside fuse boxes and Total Integrated Power Modules.
    At the house I have found them by the dozens maybe hundreds inside my electrical conduit piping that leads into the home walls.

    I find this a very smart bug that will craw around a bug zapper and will survive up to or over an hour under water!

  20. Dan P. Says:
    November 2nd, 2015 at 12:46 am

    Simply flushing these bugs is not a good idea IMO. Make sure to put them in a glass of water/dish soap first and they will die quickly.


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