Good Fruit Grower

March 1

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28 MARCH 1, 2016 Good Fruit Grower the article, "Report Sightings of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in Your Home or Business," on the MSU Extension website ( The article asked citi- zens to submit findings to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN), which collects reports about all kinds of non-native species. The plea to the public made sense for a couple of reasons. First, BMSB is the only stinkbug species in Michigan that will congregate in large numbers inside houses during cold weather. In other words, if they are present in the area, homeowners will probably know about it, she said. Second, the adult BMSB is easy to distinguish from other stinkbug species because it has more rounded, smoother "shoulders," distinctive white bands on its antennae and legs and a characteristic pattern on the margin of its abdomen. The combination of unique behavior and white banding on antennae make it easy for even novices to make a positive identification. An overwhelming response Wilson posted the article to the MSU Extension website on a Friday and shared it on her personal Facebook page. The webmaster contacted her Monday morn- ing to tell her the article had gained trac- tion; at one point, there were 100 people viewing it per minute, Wilson said with a still-incredulous drop of the jaw. She said she believes the real boost in readership came from the Michigan Master Gardener Association sharing her Facebook post, which led to more than 100 additional shares. Currently, the article has been viewed more than 100,000 times. "Clearly the timing was perfect," she said. "The stinkbugs were coming into the houses, people were seeing them, and they were really eager to tell somebody about it, so I gave them the opportunity." All in, the number of MISIN reports of BMSB rose from eight prior to publi- cation of the article to more than 2,500 as of mid-January. That flood of data showed that the pest had made its way into 46 counties, more than twice the number evidenced by the traps and spo- radic samples that came in to the MSU Plant Diagnostic Lab. "If you look at the MISIN map that has been built from all of those records, you can see that they're in houses all over in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula," she said, noting that some have also been discovered in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula, and one was even reported in the western Upper Peninsula. This indicates that the BMSB has become a nuisance pest for homeowners, which mirrors the halfway point in the invasion timeline seen in the mid-Atlan- tic states. The message for growers Growers should take heed, she said. "Over the next few years, we expect it's going to just become a bigger and bigger issue. We're basing that on the pattern of infestation in the East, where it only took about 10 years before everyone was pulling their hair out because these bugs were just everywhere and causing so much real economic loss." Unlike mid-Atlantic growers, who were caught off guard by this fruit- destroying pest, Midwest growers have time to circle the wagons and prepare a strong defense, she said. To help that process along, Wilson and her MSU cohorts are putting together a booklet that describes the biology of BMSB, how to monitor for it, and the best PHOTO BY LESLIE MERTZ Even novices can distinguish the invasive BMSBs from native stinkbugs, which was one reason Wilson sought public input. Above, Wilson explains that an adult BMSB (lower right corner) has several identifying features, such as striped antennae and legs, that are not present among native species (the four in the lower left corner). At right, the stripes on the antennae and legs are easily identifiable. "If growers catch 10 in a trap (or a tray) within a week, they should be concerned." —Julianna Wilson

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