Combating USDA's top-ranked invasive insect

January 7, 2013

First detected in the United States a decade ago, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is now in at least 39 states, is wreaking havoc in homes and gardens, and is a major economic threat to orchard fruits, garden vegetables and row crops. It's no wonder the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ranks this pest as its top "invasive insect of interest."

But help may be on the way: USDA scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Invasive Insect and Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., are searching for ways to control the stink bug by deciphering its genetic toolkit, studying the pheromones it releases, and evaluating potential attractants for use in commercial traps. ARS is the USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

ARS chemist Ashot Khrimian at the Beltsville lab led a team that identified an "aggregation pheromone" that shows promise as an early-season attractant. The pheromone, released by male stink bugs when they feed, attracts males, females and nymphs (the immature form of the stink bugs) to feeding sites. When mixed with other structurally related chemicals called stereoisomers, the pheromone is relatively simple to synthesize.

Khrimian and Aijun Zhang, an ARS chemist at Beltsville, are completing the identification of exact stereoisomers that the stink bugs are releasing to attract other stink bugs. The mixture and its components also were evaluated by ARS researchers who set up field traps at different sites and with the different candidate formulas, and then counted the numbers of they attracted. Data from those field trials, conducted in the summer of 2012, will be added to a previously filed provisional patent application.

Dawn Gundersen-Rindal, the Beltsville lab's research leader, is also looking for genes that might make the stink bug vulnerable to biopesticides or specific treatments that won't harm . In a separate effort, she is working with scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, to sequence the stink bug's genome. Sequencing the genome will tell scientists about genes critical to the stink bug's survival and may give them new ways to control the pest.

Explore further: Stink bugs are on the move across Pennsylvania

More information: Read more about this research in the January 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan13/stinkbug0113.htm

Related Stories

Stink bugs are on the move across Pennsylvania

July 15, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- They're big, they're distinctively aromatic, and they're coming to a home near you. Stink bugs are on the move across Pennsylvania and a bug expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences says we ...

Stink bugs shouldn't pose problem until late summer

March 31, 2011

Last fall, Stephanie Sturmfels battled stink bugs at her Pike Creek home and yard. “Stink bugs were on my deck, they were on my front porch, some were even in my house,” recalls the mother of two small children. ...

Researchers develop stink bug monitoring tool

May 4, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- As crop growers and homeowners brace for another year of infestations by the brown marmorated stink bug, Penn State researchers have released a Web-based tool that they hope will help enhance their understanding ...

Infestation of stink bugs continues to spread across Virginia

September 20, 2012

(Phys.org)—In the 12 years since brown marmorated stink bugs were discovered in Allentown, Pa., the voracious insect has made a slow and steady march toward Virginia. Since it was found in the state in 2004, it has caused ...

Biology and management of the green stink bug

September 26, 2012

The green stink bug is one of the most damaging native stink bug species in the United States. Stink bugs feeding on cotton, soybeans, tomatoes, peaches, and other crops can result in cosmetic damage as well as reduced quality ...

Recommended for you

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

July 29, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins ...

Studies reveal details of error correction in cell division

July 29, 2015

Cell biologists led by Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with collaborators elsewhere, report an advance in understanding the workings of an error correction mechanism that helps cells detect and ...

Researchers discover new type of mycovirus

July 29, 2015

Researchers, led by Dr Robert Coutts, Leverhulme Research Fellow from the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Research Associate at Imperial College, have discovered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.