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Monday, September 30, 2013 - 3:17am

Are Invasive Insects Bugging You?

As Georgia experiences cooler fall temperatures, some people may experience a new nuisance. The brown marmorated stink bug has made its way into Georgia and into some homes to stay warm.

“It’s the nature of the animal,” explained E. Richard Hoebeke, associate curator of the Georgia Museum of Natural History.

Hoebeke was the first to document the species in the United States. He said the East Asian bug likely came into the country on a container ship and spread from there. The stink bug, however, is more than just an annoyance.

“Numbers are so high now that the stink bugs are causing very critical damage in commercial operations, fruit production, vegetable crop production. Especially in the states of Virginia and Maryland, Pennsylvania, it’s causing a great deal of damage to crops—hundreds of millions of dollars of damage,” Hoebeke said.

So far, Hoebeke has only recorded small populations of the insect in north Georgia. The bugs, however, are likely to multiply.

“It’s slowly moving into the Southern part of the United States,” said Hoebeke. “Everybody should be at least aware of it, if not knowing that much about it, they should be aware of it and that it is moving into the south and that ultimately it could still have the same sorts of repercussions as we’re seeing up north.”

Scientists are researching the best way to control the stink bug population. Hoebeke said they are considering everything, including introducing natural predators to reduce the number of insects. Insecticides are not particularly effective against the bugs, Hoebeke explained.

“It creates a big problem and there really isn’t a proper answer how to deal with them just yet,” he added.

Hoebeke encouraged anyone who spots a brown marmorated stink bug to contact him.