They’re coming. In fact, in places south of Ithaca they’re already here. Yep. They’re stink bugs.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys, family Pentatomidae) is an introduced pest from Asia and has become a major pest of fruit and vegetable crops. In Pennsylvania, where the pest is believed to have been introduced, the apple and peach crops have suffered major losses. It’s really too bad if you want to make peach jam scones.
Appropriately named, stink bugs stink when you squish them. This is due to a chemical defense against predation. Imagine how that smell would taste… These bugs feed directly on fruit causing a type of damage known as catfacing. It’s spotty damage that renders fruit unmarketable. If these apples were growing on my tree, I’d probably just cut out the damaged parts and make applesauce or apple galette.
While stink bugs cause economic loss in the agricultural sector, most people encounter them in their homes. They often get in through cracks or open patio doors on a sunny day. I was in Pittsburgh last week, and stink bugs flew around the living room like nobody’s business. Not so fun when you’re Wii bowling and one flies into the side of your head at an alarming speed.
The brown marmorated stink bug is particularly pesky, and some other stink bugs in the family Pentatomidae are pests as well. But not all! There are, in fact, some beneficial species that are predators of caterpillar pests. Like this guy!