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Stink bugs are killing New York's apples

Oct 08, 2021 5:45 am

Lauren Harkawik is reporting for the Times Union a study is seeking the public's help in testing possible biological solutions to control the invasive brown marmorated stink bug. They look like little flying armored bugs and emit a foul odor if touched. More than an ugly, smelly, unwanted pests, stink bugs are highly invasive and can decimate crops. They eat corn, tomatoes, peppers, and fruit, and they are causing a great deal of trouble for apple growers nationwide and locally in the Hudson Valley. As a result, apple growers and scientists are searching for biological solutions to control the apple-loving appetite of the pest. Peter Jentsch, an entomologist formerly with Cornell University Hudson Valley Research Laboratory in Ulster County, is examining the impacts of a fungus called Venerate that is non-toxic to humans, that works to dispel the stink bug’s appetite. The Samurai wasp is also being looked at as a potential control for stink bugs. Jentsch has turned to local residents for help with a scientific study. He continues to head-up a long-running citizen science project that asks people to report any stink bugs they encounter in the home. He says if they’re showing up in high numbers in homes, they are likely present in nearby orchards. Stink bugs were first discovered in the U.S. in 1998, when one found its way to Pennsylvania, likely on a wood shipping pallet from Asia. This brown marmorated species was first known to have spread to New York by 2008, when the bugs were spotted in orchards, nibbling on apples. The bugs use a straw-like protrusion to sip the juice of the apple itself. This causes damage to the apple that results in dimpling, browning, and, sometimes, a change in the flavor of the fruit. Read the full story in the Times Union.