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Invasive Stinkbugs Spreading Their Wings to Illinois

April 26, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - This spring marks a big coming-out party for invasive stink bugs. The potentially smelly pests, which didn't even exist in this country 20 years ago, are making their way into Illinois and other parts of the country. While Illinois has a brown stink bug that is native to the state, the one that environmentalists are concerned about is the brown marmorated stink bug, which comes from Asia.

Kelly Estes, state survey coordinator with the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS) says this one can be very invasive.

"I've literally seen pictures out East where entire sides of houses have been covered with these."

So far, they're not doing much damage in Illinois, but Estes says they could pose a hazard to soybean and corn crops as well as orchards, if they continue to thrive. They emit a bad smell when they're crushed or stepped on. You'll probably notice them first in your garden or backyard.

Estes says there are no natural predators for these bugs, so it may just be a matter of time before they cause economic pain.

"The amount of injury and damage that it's causing to the apple growers out East is amazing, and not in a good way"

If you find one, and you're pretty sure it's an invasive stink bug, Estes says you can send it in to her - but not in a plastic bag or envelope.

"We would recommend putting them in a pill bottle, or something hard, because as these things do become crushed they do emit odors."

Estes estimates that it will be a couple of years before they become a problem in Illinois. In the meantime, she says researchers are making progress on how to control them in a way that protects crops as well as the environment.

If you find one, or think you may have, do a Google search for "Illinois CAPS." If the picture matches up, contact Estes. Her number is on the website at www.inhs.illinois.edu

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL