BMSB Team Bids Farewell to Longtime Colleague

Emily Ogburn in the lab

Emily Ogburn poses with a larger-than-life model of a wasp parasitizing brown marmorated stink bug eggs, presented to her as a parting gift from Walgenbach Lab colleagues. Photo by Stephen Schoof.

Emily Ogburn, a key member of the North Carolina State University team leading the charge against the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), recently bid her colleagues a bittersweet farewell as she moved on to the next phase of her career.

After working in the Walgenbach Lab at the NC State Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center for almost five years, Ogburn has joined the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s biological control program.

Ecology, Parasitology, and BMSB

Ogburn holds bachelor’s degrees in ecology and English from the University of Kentucky and a master’s in ecology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

“I remember sinking my hand up to the elbow in some of the openings in the pillows stored in the shed, unable to see everything that might be nestled in there, and pulling out handful upon handful of BMSB.”

– Emily Ogburn

Following grad school in Syracuse, NY, Ogburn was drawn by the promise of a warmer climate to North Carolina, where the Walgenbach Lab represented an opportunity to explore entomology on the basis of her training and field experience, particularly in parasitology, an area of active BMSB-management research. In time, she came to lead many BMSB projects and oversee the parasitoid work.

No Two Days Are the Same

A typical day for Ogburn may have included anything from rearing BMSB parasitoids in colony and leading BMSB sentinel egg surveys to planning meetings and communicating with stakeholders, yielding many memorable moments along the way.

Ogburn recounts an occasion when the group, collecting BMSB for overwintering projects, obtained thousands of them from a single closet-size shed on a farm.

“The tiny building was full of BMSB,” she recalls. “I remember sinking my hand up to the elbow in some of the openings in the pillows stored in the shed, unable to see everything that might be nestled in there, and pulling out handful upon handful of the pest.”

“The fact that so many researchers across the country have been able to successfully collaborate and conduct research together—and get so much knowledge out into the world—is pretty impressive to me.”

– Emily Ogburn

Having been disturbed, the bugs then made their presence known in their eponymous way. “Riding back on the highway in the odoriferous van, with several cages overly full of stink bugs, was very memorable, too.”

Looking Back to Look Forward

Her half-decade with the program gives Ogburn a clear sense of just how much they’ve accomplished. “The fact that so many researchers across the country have been able to successfully collaborate and conduct research together—and get so much knowledge out into the world—is pretty impressive to me.”

In her new role, Ogburn will spend half of the year at the Cary Beneficial Insects Lab, heading up hemlock woolly adelgid work, and the other half at the Raleigh, NC, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, conducting entomological surveys on pests such as imported fire ants and sweet potato weevils. “I’m excited to continue work with biological control and agricultural entomology while exploring more deeply the field of forest entomology,” she says.

“I’m excited to continue work with biological control and agricultural entomology while exploring more deeply the field of forest entomology.”

– Emily Ogburn

Ogburn’s years working with BMSB revealed that even the most despised pest can have its endearing qualities. “Caring for the BMSB colony so regularly made me kind of fond of the little stinkers,” notes Ogburn. “The first and second instars can be especially cute.”

The Northeastern IPM Center joins the Walgenbach Lab in thanking Emily Ogburn for her myriad contributions to the efforts to manage BMSB, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.


The Northeastern IPM Center promotes integrated pest management for reducing risks to human health and the environment. If republishing our news, please acknowledge the source (“From Northeast IPM Insights”) along with a link to our website.