Exploding Bug Population Stinking up Maryland Farms
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Farmers in Maryland are smelling a resurgence in the area’s stink bug population this year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the population of brown marmorated stink bugs has risen 60 percent in Frederick County from one year ago, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Numbers of the Asian pest have steadily been on the rise since 2010, when the USDA last loosened pesticide restrictions in an effort to save ailing crops.
Researchers are looking at new ways to fight the growing number of stink bugs in the area, besides the already successful wheel bug that’s indigenous to the east coast. One new predator scientists are studying is a tiny Asian wasp.
Stink bugs tend to stick together during the winter, hiding out in 33 percent of trees, according to a study by the USDA – particularly in large, dead trees with hallowed out holes where they can safely repopulate.
When they locate a safe home they emit a pheromone to telegraph the new location for the rest of the colony.
The rising population proves consistently problematic for farmers, with stink bugs showing no preference to one particular fruit or vegetable – sucking each one dry of water, protein and carbohydrates.
The U.S. Apple Association concluded that in 2010 alone, stink bugs caused $37 million in damages to apple farmers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.