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article imageUS East coast stink bug invasion has people bugged out

By Stephanie Dearing     Sep 28, 2010 in Lifestyle
It's called the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Relatively new to the United States, the insect has had a good summer, and people are reporting home invasions of an epic, creepy-crawly variety.
As the cooler weather is driving the smelly insect indoors, residents of eastern United States are crying foul over the insect take-over of their homes of a kind normally seen on the big screen. Experts are not providing much hope, saying the Marmorated Stink Bug invasion is only just getting underway.
Already the burgeoning population of the bug has caused untold damage to a variety of crops in eastern states. Corn, wheat, tomatoes, pears - the insect loves them all, reported Frederick News Post.
Mike Raupp, an entomologist and extension specialist at the University of Maryland told the Washington Post "This is the vanguard. I think this is going to be biblical this year. You're going to hear a collective wail in the Washington area, up through Frederick and Allegany counties, like you've never heard before. The [bug] populations are just through the ceiling."
The Penn State entomology department said in a fact sheet the insect is from Asia, and is a "nuisance pest" in the United States. "... This insect is becoming an important agricultural pest in Pennsylvania. In 2010, it produced severe losses in some apple and peach orchards by damaging peaches and apples. It also has been found feeding on blackberry, sweet corn, field corn and soybeans. In neighboring states it has been observed damaging tomatoes, lima beans and green peppers."
Aside from the agricultural damage, the insects are harmless, although they do release a foul smell to protect themselves, hence their name, 'stink bug.' Penn State researchers say the best way to keep the bugs out of the home is to seal the house so that they can't find a way in.
While the harmless nature of the insect should be a cause for relief, the sheer number of the insects entering homes and offices is alarming east coast residents. Numerous media outlets are relating tips from people on how to dispose of the insects once they've entered the home. The Record Herald reported that people are divided: there are those who prefer to kill the insects and do so by flushing down the toilet, and pacifists who practice catch and release, letting the bugs go outside. Of course, there are the die-hards who stomp the bugs, even though that causes the smell to be released. The smell has staying power, according to Penn State.
An Albermarle resident told The Hook that this year's stink bug invasion is far worse than what she experienced last fall, her first year of dealing with the insects.
TBD declared Washington D.C. as "officially infested" with the bug.
Maryland appears to have been particularly hard-hit by the stink bug, and the loss of crops has been so big, that assistance is being asked for from the government. The York Daily Record reported that Maryland politicians, Todd Platts and Maryland Congressman Roscoe Bartlett met with representatives "... from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the House Agriculture Committee to discuss immediate and long-term strategies to reduce the impact of the stink bug.
They asked the USDA to fast-track the re-classification of the bug to a regulated insect -- allowing farmers to use certain pesticides to limit further damage to their crops. Additionally, they requested that resources be made available through the inspection service to expand monitoring, control and eradication programs, while also collaborating among the various federal research agencies, universities and crop protection companies to develop long-term solutions."
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