Horticultural researchers at NIAB EMR, and crop specialists at Berry Garden Growers, are monitoring seven fruit-growing sites in south-east England, utilising a trap containing the aggregation pheromone of the pest. The stink bug is a non-native species which has caused significant crop damage across Europe since its arrival in 2004.

NIAB EMR entomologist Dr Glen Powell said: “NIAB EMR has long been at the forefront of finding, and developing, practical control strategies for newly arriving pest species. It is likely this is a ‘when’ not ‘if’ pest species, as there has already been a couple of instances on imported timber. As an industry we need to be ready to mitigate potential damage by this pest, which causes major damage to crops by eating the foliage of fruit, vegetable and image008.jpgornamental crops.”

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys), or BMSB, is a member of the familiar shield-bug family which can omit a pungent odour if handled. It is identifiable through its unique combination of alternating light bands on its antennae and dark bands on the side of its abdomen.

Any grower suspecting they have found a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug can contact Dr Powell at NIAB EMR, via glen.powell@emr.ac.uk, and include a photo of the insect.

Originally from eastern Asia, the pest often forms large gatherings in containers and probably spread around the world via international shipping. BMSB was first found in Europe in Switzerland in 2004, and was then recorded in Germany, France and Greece. It was confirmed in Italy in 2012 where it is now spreading northwards rapidly. The pest was first sighted in the USA in September 1996, and has now established itself as a serious horticultural pest across wide areas of the eastern United States. In all countries where the stink bug is increasing there are few specific enemies that are effectively keeping the expanding populations in check.

BMSB appears on the UK Plant Health Risk Register as being both likely to enter, and establish, in the UK and is expected to cause significant economic impact to affected crops, scoring the maximum score on the ‘value at risk’ scale. Further details on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug are available via Defra’s UK Plant Health Risk Register website.