Growers had better be on the lookout for brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), as the pest’s population growth shows no sign of diminishing.
Just ask Joe Beaudoin, who grows nearly 90 acres of fruits and vegetables in Vancouver, WA, which he sells through his U-Pick operation and a retail outlet, Joe’s Place Farms. The city has developed around the farm over the years, making Beaudoin vulnerable to BMSB, which frequently hitchhikes on the nation’s roadways.
Even worse, Interstate 5 — the main route between Seattle and Portland, OR — is just 1,000 feet from the farm, and Portland International Airport is just 10 minutes away. All that made Joe’s Place easy pickinpickins for BMSB. In fact, he has the dubious distinction of being the first commercial farmer in the state of Washington to get invaded by BMSB.
Three years ago, in late season, the pests invaded a field of bell peppers. Beaudoin went from not seeing one to seeing them seemingly everywhere.
“All of a sudden, there were 10 on every pepper plant,” he says. “It seemed like they multiplied 3 or 4 times in just a few days.”
On To The Fruit
Beaudoin was able to get a handle on BMSB on his pepper, tomato, and pumpkin fields to a large degree by spraying pyrethroids such as Mustang Max and Brigade (both from FMC Corp). But in the past few years BMSB has invaded his berries and tree fruit including apples, peaches, plums and cherries.
The problem is using products such as pyrethroids and carbamates can ruin an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program, notes Peter Shearer, an Oregon State University entomologist who has worked with Beaudoin. Shearer is a member of the national team, Stop BMSB, which consists of 50 scientists from 10 universities and USDA.
Another member of the team, Chris Bergh of Virginia Tech, says growers who abandon their IPM programs end up faced with numerous other secondary pests. Using pyrethroids and carbamates can lead to outbreaks of wooly apple aphid, San Jose scale, and spider mites.
“Brown marmorated stink bug has turned that whole IPM program upside down,” he says. “My advice to growers would be to keep your program as soft as possible for as long as possible.”