This article was published originally on 4/20/2011
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an invasive insect, is major plant pest as well as a household pest. Brown marmorated stink bugs feed on a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, field crops and ornamental plants. In the fall brown marmorated stink bugs are an accidental invader - like the multicolored Asian lady beetle and boxelder bugs.
Currently there have been reports of BMSB in 33 states, but only in a few states are there large enough populations of BMSB to cause serious damage to produce and crops. In Iowa we are tracking this insect in order to determine when we have established populations. It appears that once established the BMSB is primarily noticed as a household pest as it come indoors in the fall. Then after a few years populations are large enough to start causing damage in fields, orchards, and gardens.
To date the two reports of BMSB in Iowa appear to be one to a few individual insects that arrived from boxes shipped into Iowa from states to the east that have large populations. This insect gets around easily this way because it moves into buildings and warehoused for the winter. We do not yet believe there is an established population in Iowa, but we need your help to track this insect.
Homeowners are likely to be the first to notice BMSB either in the fall when they gather on homes, or in the next month as warm weather causes any BMSB overwintering in walls or the attic to move into the living areas of the house. If you notice any insects resembling the BMSB please send a digital image to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a sample to the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic (no fee).
There are also many native stink bugs and other closely related bugs in Iowa that resemble the BMSB. For pictures of these please see our Stink Bugs and Similar-Appearing Insects in Iowa.
For a current map of detections in Iowa please see www.ncipmpipe.org
Brown marmorated stink bug. Photo courtesy of David Shetlar, Ohio State University.