Stink bug threatens Mich. fruit, vegetable crops

5/18/2013 9:00 AM
By Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — A tiny insect could cause big problems for Michigan's fruit and vegetable crops, farmers and experts say.

The potential for the brown marmorated stink bug's increased presence in Michigan concerns some people because there are no state or federal eradication programs. The invasive Asian bug was found last year in Wayne, Oakland and 10 other Michigan counties, two years after it first was spotted in Berrien County.

The stink bug is the latest addition to a list of invasive species that have had an impact on the state's plants and lakes, joining the emerald ash borer beetle, the zebra mussel and feral pigs.

Though the bug hasn't yet been spotted in Macomb County, growers such as Paul Blake have been monitoring their crops for it.

"We haven't seen it on our farm yet, and we are hoping that we don't," Blake, the co-owner of Blake Farms in Armada and Almont, told The Detroit News for a story Saturday. "However, we are very aware of the stink bugs."

Blake, who grows apples, peaches, strawberries and cherries on his 700 acres, said he has "certified scouts coming out once a week who check all of our orchards with magnifying glasses.

"And we set traps so we can be aware of something out in the orchard that shouldn't be there," he said.

Michigan State University entomology professor Matthew Grieshop said the stink bug's spread into more of the state's 83 counties is inevitable.

"We are in the early invasion stage," he said.

Grieshop said 2010 crop damage by the brown marmorated stink bug in the nation's mid-Atlantic region was horrific.

"There were hundreds of growers who had double-digit to 100 percent losses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey because they got caught flat-footed," Grieshop said. "It has caused million and millions of damage."

The bug does not bite or pose any danger to humans, but it does stink.

Grieshop described the smell to WWJ-AM as a combination of cilantro and sweaty socks: "Not a very pleasant (scent)."


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