Michigan insect population adds another species
Brown marmorated stink bugs are now in Michigan, and can be a nuisance to gardeners.
The beginning of February marked the identifying of a new insect resident for Michigan. The Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) was identified from insect samples submitted from Eaton, Berrien and Genesee counties.
So how bad is this? It could be years before your area has them. For most homeowners, the problem is that this stinkbug spends the winter as an adult indoors. When disturbed, it releases a vile odor. That puts it in the nuisance pest category. When the BMSB is disturbed, it releases an unpleasant smell from stink glands on the underside of its body, between the first and second pair of legs. That usually discourages predators, who leave, gasping.
For gardeners, this stinkbug can damage some fruit, vegetables and plants. Being a true bug, the BMSB sucks nutrients out of the plant with its proboscis. This leaves necrotic spots where the feeding tube was inserted. The spots can rot or become dried and corky around the injuries. Damage can occur to fruit and vegetables like peaches, apples, pears, cherries, raspberries, green beans, soybeans, tomatoes and sweet corn. Leaf damage may occur on some garden plants, giving them a stippled appearance.
The brown marmorated stink bug is an alien from China or Japan, being first found in Pennsylvania in 1998. Marmorated means “like marble” because their backs are a marbled brown color. When news of this BMSB made the Internet and papers, many people were sure that they had them. But it was a case of mistaken identity. Brown marmorated stink bugs look a bit like western conifer seed bugs. For fast identification, look at the hind legs. The BMSB has a straight, thin back leg. The western conifer seed bug has a leg that widens to look like a tiny, flat brown leaf is attached to the lower part. Western conifer seed bugs also spend the winter indoors and are associated with landscapes that have evergreens that produce cones. In some areas, they, too, are nuisance pests.
But beware of a number of Internet sites that indicate that BMSB can bite. This is incorrect, unless you are a fruit or vegetable. Then, you get a poked hole. Right now, and in the immediate future, BMSB can be filed under “much ado about nothing,” so wait and see. Be aware of them and know what they look like, but don’t get too excited.