Origins of BMSB

brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB)
Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys (Stål). Photo by Gary Bernon, USDA APHIS,

In Asia, people recognized the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys (Stål), as a pest. But the insect has not caused nearly as much damage there as it has in North America.

BMSB in Asia

In China, BMSB feeds on Eucommia, a small tree threatened in the wild but cultivated for use in traditional Chinese medicine.[1] BMSB also attacks a variety of fruit and ornamental trees, including pear, peach, apple, plum, and mulberry.[2] In northern Japan, the first documented outbreaks of BMSB occurred in the 1990s; in that region in 2011 the insect had become a significant pest.[3] In Korea, BMSB is a major pest on soybean, sweet persimmon, yuzu, and citrus.[4] Recent research in China, Korea, and Japan has sought to understand the biology of BMSB and find a sustainable and effective defense. Cross-cultural partnership has become essential now that BMSB has arrived in the Americas.

BMSB in North America

BMSB was accidentally imported from Asia to North America in the late 1990s. Spreading from the place of early sightings in Allentown, Pennsylvania, BMSB quickly became a nuisance pest, overwintering in homes, office buildings, and warehouses. With few natural predators and an abundance of food sources, the invasive insect spread quickly. Karen Bernhard collected the first specimens of the insect in North America and in 2001 Rick Hoebeke identified them as BMSB. By 2004 the stink bug was widely identified on farms and in forests. In 2010, the invader caused catastrophic damage in most mid-Atlantic states, with some growers of sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, apples, and peaches reporting total losses that year. In 2011 the stink bug continued to present season-long and significant problems for growers.

In 2012 our team has mobilized to develop an effective defense against BMSB. The team is seeking to understand stink bug behavior in order to deploy sustainable controls such as traps and lures, biopesticides, and natural enemies against it.

[1] Aijun Zhang, 2011, "Halyomorpha halys in China," accessed June 5, 2012.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Brent Short and Ken Funayama, 2011, "Kusagikamemushi in Japan," accessed June 5, 2012.

[4] Yong-Lak Park, 2011, "BMSB in South Korea," accessed June 5, 2012.