By: Kara Gilmour - Staff Writer
Published: May 20, 2021

Stink Bugs Invade East Coast Farmers

Insects that stink are causing millions of dollars in crop damage and farmers say the bugs are just beginning.

Farmers are worried about the bugs attacking their crops. The insect is believed to have been brought first to the state of Pennsylvania in 1998 from Asia. They have exploded in numbers during the past 12 months.

The stink bug has a voracious appetite and has turned up in 33 states, including every one east of the Mississippi River. It’s made it to the West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington. Researchers believe that they went into overwintering in fall 2010.

“All that we do know for certain is that a tremendously large population went into overwintering in fall 2010. So, if they survived, there could be a very large population emerging,” Tracy Leskey, a research entomologist at the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station, said in a statement.

Farmers in the mid-Atlantic region have reported the worst problems with about 18 percent of crop, and the apple industry appears hit hardest, with $37 million in damage to growers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the U.S. Apple Association.

The bugs are causing the worst threat to farmers in over 40 years. Growers in Washington state, the nation’s biggest apple producer, haven’t seen major damage so far, said Mike Willett, vice president for scientific affairs for the Yakima, Wash.-based Northwest Horticultural Council. The stink insect was first spotted in the state a couple years ago.

The bug, named for the foul stink it gives off when crushed, will feed on nearly anything, including cherries, tomatoes, grapes, lima beans, soybeans, green peppers, apples and peaches.


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