Designing Stink Bugs Out of Landscapes
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has an indiscriminate palate and a healthy appetite. The pest thrives on numerous plant species as both food sources and suitable places for laying its egg masses. Ornamental plants face the same risks of BMSB infestation as fruit and vegetable crops.
Researchers recently conducted a study of BMSB in woody ornamentals commonly found in home and public landscapes of the Northeast with the goal of determining whether BMSB can be designed out of landscapes. Principal investigator Erik Bergmann (University of Maryland) led the team that recently reported to the Northeastern IPM Center’s BMSB Working Group.
With a robust sampling of nearly 200 cultivars and more than 2,000 individual native and non-native plants, Bergmann and his team observed over 13,000 BMSB and their egg masses for two years.
The research focused on which plants most attract BMSB throughout the insects’ annual cycles. Researchers honed in on specific characteristics that most appealed to BMSB. “BMSB preferred flowering species, or angiosperms, over evergreens, or gymnosperms, at a ratio of 5:1,” said Bergmann. “They also preferred hosts that they ‘know’ evolutionarily, like Cornus (dogwood), but can favor some native hosts like Acer (maple) and Ulmus (elm).”
The team’s samples have been grown in commercial nurseries and are the same varieties that consumers purchase for their own homes. Bergmann’s team is currently working to compile recommendations for designing BMSB out of the landscape, based on the patterns of behavior discovered during research. “We hope to take our findings on behavior patterns and apply them to smaller residential landscapes,” Bergmann concludes. He anticipates publishing his team’s recommendations this fall.