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Large-Scale Study Points to Simpler Trap for Monitoring Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

brown marmorated stink bug sticky panel trap

A new study conducted across 115 sites in 18 states in the U.S. shows a clear sticky-panel trap using the aggregation pheromone of the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) as a lure to be a reliable tool for monitoring local populations of the bug in various agricultural and environmental settings. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Leskey, Ph.D.)

What’s better than one scientist studying the optimal design for traps to detect brown marmorated stink bugs? How about 35 scientists conducting the same tests across 115 sites in 18 states across the country?

Tracy Leskey, Ph.D.

Tracy Leskey, Ph.D.

Angelita L. Acebes-Doria, Ph.D.

Angelita L. Acebes-Doria, Ph.D.

That’s the level of collaboration that went into a new study that establishes the reliability of a simpler, more cost-effective monitoring trap for brown marmorated stink bugs. The results of the project, published in September in the Journal of Economic Entomology, will make it easier for growers and integrated pest management (IPM) professionals to measure the presence of brown marmorated stink bugs and decide if and when management methods are necessary.

Since its arrival in North America in the 1990s, the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) has spread to 44 states in the U.S., becoming an agricultural pest in at least 25 states and causing nuisance problems in seven more. In 2014, researchers discovered the insect’s male aggregation pheromone, and others have later established its effectiveness in attracting the bugs using a black pyramid-style trap. That trap type, however, can be cumbersome to deploy.

So, a team of researchers led by Tracy Leskey, Ph.D., at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia, got to work on a new-and-improved solution. In a study published in 2018, the team showed the similar effectiveness of a clear sticky-panel trap using the same H. halys aggregation pheromone. The next step was testing that result on a broader scale.

“We wanted to use enlist collaborators around the country to evaluate these two baited trap types in different agroecosystems and under varying climactic conditions,” Leskey says. “Not only would this tell us how each trap type performed, but it also would provide data nationwide on relative abundance and seasonal phenology of H. halys populations.”

brown marmorated stink bug trap study map

A recent study led by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia, recruited the help of 35 scientists to test a new trap for brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) across across 115 sites in 18 states across the U.S. (Image originally published in Acebes-Doria et al 2019, Journal of Economic Entomology)

Angelita L. Acebes-Doria, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at Virginia Tech working with Leskey’s lab at the time (now an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Georgia), developed a standard protocol for testing the trap designs and coordinated the participation of colleagues across the country. In all, the traps were deployed at 115 sites in 18 states and checked weekly from April to November 2017. The resulting mountain of data showed consistent results with the earlier small-scale testing.

“Although the pheromone-baited black pyramid trap captured more H. halys than the baited clear sticky trap, the captures between the two traps are strongly correlated regardless of the relative population density,” Acebes-Doria says. “Thus, both trap designs are good options for monitoring brown marmorated stink bug populations, with sticky panel traps offering a simpler alternative.”

brown marmorated stink bug trap comparison

In 2014, researchers discovered the male aggregation pheromone of the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), and others later established its effectiveness in attracting the bugs using a black pyramid-style trap (left). That trap type, however, can be cumbersome to deploy. A clear sticky-panel trap using the same pheromone lure, however, has shown to be equally effective, and a new, large-scale study confirms the trap’s effectiveness in varying agricultural settings and environmental conditions. (Image courtesy of Angelita L. Acebes-Doria, Ph.D.)

Leskey says the study is “the culmination of a decade of work on the chemical ecology” of H. halys. Now the simplified monitoring traps can be deployed in varied agricultural settings. “We want to develop standardized treatment thresholds—i.e., decision support tools—for cropping systems to improve integrated pest management programs,” she says. “While a threshold was developed using black pyramid traps, the lures used were experimental. Now, we have standardized traps and lures to establish thresholds for particular crops.”

The large, coordinated trapping of H. halys in 2017 also gave the researchers a chance to test models of the bug’s seasonal life cycle dynamics against real-world data. Acebes-Doria says the two were “reasonably comparable” for adults but not for nymphs. Continued trapping would allow the models to be further refined. “This would hopefully lead to development of more accurate H. halys population forecasting models, which could benefit agricultural production as well as the biosurveillance of this invasive pest,” says Acebes-Doria.

That monitoring will also be important as researchers track the effects of the parasitoid wasp Trissolcus japonicus, which is viewed as a strong potential natural enemy that could aid in bringing H. halys under control in the U.S.

“It is because of the cooperative, collaborative, and integrated approach to research and extension at a national level that we have made rapid advances for the management of the invasive H. halys,” Leskey says. “Programs that enable this type of dynamic, cross-institution project development and execution are key.”

10 Comments »

  1. I hate having them in my house! Winter of 2018 was the first time in 20 years they came in! I live in a suburb of Chicago.

    • Last winter was the first time we ever had them in the house too. Yesterday, they came back! Well, I have seen one so far, but I’m sure we are in for another invasion. We live in northern GA. They seem to like living around lamps and do not fly around much or go near us. The easiest way I’ve found to get one or two out is to simply unplug the lamp they are on and carry the whole thing with them on it outside. I don’t want to kill them in the house because of the smell.

  2. Wow! I’d love to be able to have this product…. I’m inundated with these bugs, and can’t even enter my house through the front door.

  3. They are coming down my chimney and getting in. We put sticky traps in the fireplace and put a dish with peppermint essence in there as a deterrent and closed the fireplace doors. I think it helps a little. They drive me crazy. If we open the door wall, they manage to get in Inspite of the screen. Ugh from Michigan

  4. I live in North Carolina in a high-rise, and this year I was inundated with stink bugs. I grow my own produce on my terrace and was fighting these damn bugs all summer. Even now with the temperature remaining in the high 80’s I kill ten a day at least. I hope a solution is found to rid my garden of them.
    Kevin, Raleigh.

  5. Thank you, readers, for all the comments and interest in this post. Regarding the questions from many about using these traps for residential infestations, the lead researcher on this project, Angelita L. Acebes-Doria, Ph.D., shares the following comment:

    “Our study investigated the effectiveness of two pheromone-baited traps for monitoring field populations of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). It did not explore the utility of these traps for BMSB inside houses or other man-made structures. However, a study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology in 2017 (https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/tox097) showed that pheromone-baited pyramid traps performed poorly in trapping for stink bugs inside buildings during the winter. In addition, season-long BMSB trapping studies have indicated that BMSB attraction to pheromone lures goes down when BMSB adults are entering diapause (starting late September/early October). The best option for managing BMSB for homeowners is physically excluding them from entering homes. This includes taping, caulking and fixing gaps in doors and windows.”

  6. I sealed all windows inside and out. Last year, they were a nuisance. Although this year (2019) i see them hovering on top of my gutters, i used peppermint oil with hot water and saturated the window encasement as well as the soffits. I havent seen one in my house yet, and not as many outside. You can spray your bushes, and your trees, as it wont harm them or your pets. It has worked. Living in the Upper Hudson Valley of N.Y. you are accustomed to the seasonal bugs, etc. However, these are invasive and a nuisance. So far the oil worked. Good luck!

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