Reports of gardeners struggling with deformed green beans and other crops this summer were a mystery that was assigned to everything from poor pollination to bad seeds.
The culprit has finally been identified as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, an exotic pest that is making its rounds to gardens and farms here in Pennsylvania as well as other states spread across the country.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs Create Confusion in Backyard Gardens
Kenny, early in the growing season I frantically asked you why my pole beans were producing scruffy, flat and curly beans.
It took awhile longer to determine that the culprit was the brown marmorated stink-bug, a new and highly destructive garden pest. They attack the blossoms and the leaves of beans that are attractive to the bug, preventing pollination and damaging the vines.
Interestingly, there was a remarkable difference among bean varieties. Of the lovely 3-in-1 variety pack from Renee’s Garden Seed Co. which I was so enamored with last year, not one produced a single good bean.
The Hopes for an Organic Solution to Control this New Pest
In contrast, Renee’s “Spanish Musica” has been left completely untouched. Why the stink-bugs don’t care for it is a mystery. Also, Territorials’ “Painted Lady” Scarlet Runner Bean is doing well; the leaves are undamaged and it has begun setting out beans, it is also a late season producer here.
Government entomologists are promising a pheromone trap for next season, like the trap for the Japanese Beetle. I do hope they are able to keep their promise. In the meantime, it’s up to us gardeners to plant a wide variety of seeds to help determine which are susceptible and which are resistant to damage by the brown marmorated stink-bug.
Even the small space gardener can participate in this project. That information, shared on blogs like yours, will help us fight with the best of all tools… Natural Selection. Peace in the Garden, Barb K.
Penn State University Warns of the Coming Stink bug Invasion
Not long after Barb’s description of the damage that Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs were causing in her garden, I received an alert through an Ag Newswire from Penn State University regarding these pests and the havoc that they have been creating here within the state and beyond.
The newswire titled; “Researchers seek elusive answers to stink-bug infestations” was prefaced with the following introduction:
Many homes and orchards in the mid-Atlantic region have been overrun by the brown marmorated stink bug, the latest in what seems to be a steady stream of exotic, invasive insects that have found their way into the United States in recent years.
And as with many of its fellow interlopers — such as the Asian long horned beetle and the emerald ash borer — experts haven’t yet identified any good solutions for managing or eradicating the pest.
So it appears that the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is a recent introduction and not a native species to the U.S. and as is often the case with foreign plant and insect invaders, it may turn into a huge challenge to control once it settles into a new territory. You can read the full Penn State University article at: http://live.psu.edu/story/48793#nw69
A Follow Up from Barb, the Small Space Gardener
And Barb wasn’t finished outlining her encounter with the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Virginia, here is a subsequent email that she shared regarding the destructive impact on her green beans:
It seems that the larval stage (of the stink bug) focuses on the blossoms, either eating the blossom entirely, or just the reproductive parts, so the beans that form are seedless and misshapen. I did not see any larvae, or blossoms for that matter, on some of the beans. I didn’t realize what was going on until late in the season when I was picking pears and noticed an unusual number of stink-bugs buzzing above the bean vines.
That was when I decided the affected beans had to go. I cut and unstrung the yellow, broad green and purple bean plants. I had not seen blossoms all season on the yellow or purple. The broad green beans were the curly, sterile ones of the original complaint. All those plants were tied up and sent to the county incinerator. No way are they going into the compost!
Seeking Answers to the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug Dilemma
The late season string beans (Spanish Music) seemed to be completely unaffected by the stinkbugs. I pickled 7 quarts of dilly beans and have had fresh beans every night. They are nearly done and are slowing production.
The scarlet runner beans were somewhat affected, most pods had only one or two beans, and in the clusters, more were spindly than fat. I did get a handful or two, but not what I should have gotten. It looks like they have given up for the season completely.
I have heard that around the region, the new stinkbug has begun to show its’ destructive capability and has impacted farmer’s fields. Let’s hope for a pheromone and trap solution soon! Peace in the Garden, Barb.
Thanks Barb, fortunately my garden was spared this summer! I noticed more stinkbugs getting inside the house than what I saw causing any trouble in the garden. That was also the biggest complaint I heard related to stink bugs in the general area… that they were finding their way into homes and buildings.
So I’m not even sure if they were the Brown Marmorated species or some other type that was being spotted nearby. If anyone has additional insight, experiences, or an effective organic control to share please leave your feedback in the comment section below. Thanks!
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