Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Control Using Natural Enemies

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Control Using Natural Enemies

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend North Carolina State’s Tomato Field Day, at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC.  Every summer crowds flock from all over the Southeast to learn what’s new in the world of tomatoes.  Since it’s not always convenient for you to drop what you’re doing to make a road trip to North Carolina, I’ll highlight something I learned from the field day.

Stink Bug Control by Dr. Jim Walgenbach


The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) was introduced into the United States from Asia.  The insect pest was first found in Pennsylvania and is suspected to have made its way to the US in packing material.  BMSB was first reported in 2009 in Hillsborough County, FL and since been found in additional Florida counties.  It has a wide host range including fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals.

Fifth instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug

Fifth instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug on raspberry in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Photo Credit: Gary Bernon, USDA-APHIS


BMSB has a typical stink bug body shape and size with a mottled brown coloring.  The key identification feature is alternating dark and light bands on the last two antennal segments.

Trissolcus japonicus adults.

Trissolcus japonicus adults. Female to the left; male to the right. Photo Credit: FDACS – DPI

Biological Control with Natural Enemies

Dr. Walgenbach’s team is currently researching the impact of suppressing BMSB populations by native predators such as: katydids; jumping spiders; earwigs; and lady beetles.  Current observations indicate only a minor effect from these predators on BMSB.

Parasitized BMSB

BMSB egg masses parasitized by T. japonicus. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

Trissolcus japonicus Assessment

A regional effort has been implemented to monitor the introduction, spread, and efficacy of the Asian parasitoid Trissolcus japonicus.  Trissolcus japonicus is a tiny wasp that parasitizes the eggs of various stink bug species.  It was first collected from China and brought back to quarantine facilities in the US for evaluation, as a potential biological control agent.  Host-specific tests have indicated that T. japonicus prefers to parasitize BMSB eggs over eggs of other stink bug species.  It is suspected that release permits for the wasp will be available from the USDA in the near future.

Reporting in Florida

The brown marmorated stink bug overwinters in homes to keep warm.  If stink bugs are found in yuor home, they may be the BMSB and should be reported to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry.  Specimens should be collected for identification.

To follow the research of Dr. Walgenbach and his colleagues, please visit NC State’s Entomology webpage.

Identifying Harmless “False White Mold” in Peanut Fields

Identifying Harmless “False White Mold” in Peanut Fields

Photo taken by Andrew Sawyer, UGA Wilcox County Extension of false white mold.

This article is from an educational update email from Dr. Bob Kemerait, UGA Plant Pathologist.  Dr. Kemerait gave permission for Panhandle Ag to use this to share with the growers of Florida.

Andrew Sawyer, UGA Wilcox County Extension, sent me these great pictures yesterday afternoon.  They are images of what we call “false white mold” which is caused by the fungus Phanerochaete.  This is NOT the white mold, aka stem rot, that causes so much damage to our peanut crop and growers SHOULD NOT spray anything for it.  False white mold does NOT harm the plant; in fact the real damage false white mold can cause is that growers spend money unnecessarily fighting it.

Picture of false white mold, taken by Andrew Sawyer, UGA Wilcox County Extension.

False white mold is most often found in fields planted using conservation tillage, where the white fungal growth covers both the limbs of the peanut crop and the associated crop debris.  Early in its growth and development, the Phanerochaete fungus appears nearly identical to the white mold/stem rot pathogen and all-around bad guy Sclerotium rolfsii.  However, as False white mold ages it begins to turn a yellow-orange color and takes on a toothed or hairy appearance.  False white mold NEVER produces BB-sized sclerotia like Sclerotium rolfsii does.

A final difference, no lesions form beneath the fungal growth of Phanerochaete; they often form beneath the fungal growth of Sclerotium rolfsii.


Kudzu Bugs – Will They Overwinter in Your Neighborhood?

The non-native Kudzu bug may be looking for overwintering sites in your neighborhood this month.

The non-native Kudzu bug may be looking for overwintering sites in a neighborhood near you!

Were you among the many visited by Kudzu Bugs last week?  If you saw a large number of small greenish, round, flattened insects on your home’s exterior walls, then “yes” is the answer! You and lots of your friends and neighbors received an unexpected guest last week when the relatively-new invasive insect from Asia, the Kudzu bug, landed on homes or places of business looking for overwintering sites.

This insect with the scientific name of Megacopta cribraria arrived in the U.S. a few years ago and is steadily marching across the southern states. Figure 1 shows the current distribution of this invasive insect.  This pest feeds on soybean, kudzu and other legumes (beans) and can be an important pest of crops.  It is best known, however, for the pungent odor it emits when disturbed, and the large numbers that are seen on the sides of buildings in the fall trying to find a place to overwinter.

Distribution of the Kudzu bug from

Distribution of the Kudzu bug from 2009 – November 1, 2013

The Kudzu bug is just the latest non-native insect to arrive in Florida along with the redbay beetle which transmits laurel wilt to redbay and other trees, several whitefly and scale species, and the multicolored Asian ladybeetle which also overwinters in dwellings. Florida is an entry point into the United States for many types of imported commercial goods, and insect pests often unintentionally hitch a ride in shipping containers with these goods from other countries. 

Fortunately, the overwintering flights by the kudzu bug only lasts a few days in the fall, but if your dwelling is one they select to land on and then use by crawling into cracks and crevices, you may also have a problem with them on the interior of your dwelling which will be even worse than having them on the exterior. The best remedy to minimize this possibility is to caulk all the openings where they might enter your dwelling. One might wish to apply insecticides to control the Kudzu bugs, but that option is both difficult to properly time as well as mostly ineffective.  

Often it takes about ten years for introduced invasive insects, such as the kudzu bug, to become established and reach high populations. Ideally, populations of natural enemies start catching up to them and reduce their numbers.  Scientists trying to control non-native invasive pests often search for and collect the natural predators and parasites of these pests in their country of origin.  These predators and parasites are then extensively tested to ensure they will not harm any of our native plants and animals.  Once tested and approved, these predators and parasites are released to suppress the spread of the non-native pests in the U.S.  This is termed classical biological control and in many cases has been very effective.  However, it is expensive research and requires intensive tests within quarantine facilities before they are approved for release.  Fortunately, in some cases, native natural enemies will attack the invasive species and help suppress them as well.  

This may not be good news for the overwintering swarms of kudzu bugs as native representative species of both a parasite and a predator have been found and are being researched with the hope that high populations of the kudzu bug, and other invasive species, can be suppressed to acceptable population levels.

To learn more about kudzu bugs, contact your local Extension Office, read a brief summary in the UF/IFAS publication:Bean Plataspid: Megacopta cribraria (Fabricius) (Insecta: Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Plataspidae) or go to the official Kudzu Bug Website

New World Screwworm: Gone -Yes, but not Forgotten!


Florida has a long history with New World Screwworm.  Shown here from the left, is a screwworm fly and screwworm larvae (or maggots).

Several kinds of maggots infest the wounds of warm-blooded animals; however, the only one that feeds exclusively on live flesh is the screwworm, and Florida has a long history with New World Screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax).  The adult flies of these flesh eating maggots migrated from central and south America to parts of the United States, and were common in Florida during the early to mid-1900s.  Screwworm-related cattle producer losses in the southeastern United States were estimated at $20 million per year in the 1950s (imagine the cost in today’s economy!).  Beginning in 1958, a coordinated, two-year, state-federal eradication program began in the southeastern United States.  Even though these efforts eradicated the screwworm fly from the Southeast; there is constant danger of re-infestation.  In Florida, we continue to see screwworm in imported animals.  Since 2000, 12 imported animals with screwworm larvae infestations were identified in Florida.  The larvae were eliminated before the fly could become established, but awareness and constant surveillance is the only way to prevent reintroductions of this pest into the United States (

Screwworm infestation

Screwworm infestation

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Division of Animal Industry, the Florida State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), and the Florida State Agricultural Response Team, have conducted first response training and provide educational materials to increase awareness about this and many other pests, disasters, and diseases that can affect Florida’s agriculture.

Anyone suspecting a screwworm infestation is urged to immediately contact:

Your local UF/IFAS County Extension Director

A local veterinarian

State Veterinarian’s Office
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Division of Animal Industry
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (850) 410-0900
After hours: 800-342-5869

A website on the biology and distribution of the New World Screwworm, past eradication efforts, current eradication efforts, videos, and pictures, can be viewed at

Further information about cattle parasites can be found in the following publication: External Parasites on Beef Cattle


Hay Producers Need to Scout For Horsenettles

Horse-nettle can be identified by its leaves, spines, blooms, and tiny fruit.


Some of Walton County’s perennial peanut producers are experiencing an outbreak of Horsenettles (Solanum carolinense).  This pasture weed is also known as love-apple or wild tomato in panhandle Florida, and is toxic to humans and livestock.  It is often confused with another serious pasture weed, tropical soda apple, which is in the same Solanum family.

Toxicity varies depending upon plant maturity, environment, and portion of the plant ingested, but all parts are toxic.  Even touching the plant can cause irritation.

Acutely poisoned animals can have irritation of the mouth and gastrointestinal lesions.  In the chronic form, symptoms include unthriftiness, jaundiced (yellow) mucous membranes, abdominal dropsy, and constipation.

Producers should scout for and control horsenettle in your pastures.  Hay producers must be especially cautious not to contaminate bales with this weed.

Horsenettle is an erect perennial weed. The leaves are alternate on the stems, and both leaves and stems contain spines.  The leaves on horsenettle can get up to seven inches in length.

There are two ways horsenettle spreads, by its rhizomes and seeds.  This plant can be seen with purple to white flowers in clusters on a spiny flower stalk.

This plant can grow in a variety of soil types across the eastern and southeastern United States, however, it grows best in sandy soils and is major weed for producers in the Florida panhandle.

There are a variety of herbicides which will control horsenettle, but the selection depends on which crop the horsenettle is growing in.  For more information, download the UF Pasture Weed Control Guide, or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.

Submitted by Mindy Hittle, Walton County Extension Agriculture Agent.