Oregon agricultural officials are racing against time as the brown marmorated stink bug spreads from urban areas to farming regions of the state.
They want to avoid the same type of damage that growers in the East and Mid-Atlantic have suffered and hope a tiny wasp can bring the pest under control, according to a news release.
“On a pest risk scale of one to 10, I would say the brown marmorated stink bug is a 15,” Helmuth Rogg, manager of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program, said in the release. “We don’t want to make it sound too alarming, but we want people to be aware that there is great potential for this to be a very, very bad pest.
"Hopefully, time is on our side and we can avoid the big outbreak we’ve seen in eastern states. Biological control can help.”
The pest was first discovered in Oregon in 2004 in Portland.
During the past few years, it also has shown up in the Willamette Valley and Hood River, both agricultural areas of the state.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is conducting experiments with Trissolcus halymorphae, an imported Asian wasp that's a brown marmorated stink bug parasitoid.
Female wasps lay their eggs in stink bug eggs. The developing wasp larvae consumes the stink bug egg contents.
One unknown is whether the Asian wasp also is a parasitoid of native stink bugs.
After all, Oregon officials say, not all stink bugs are bad.
Work on non-target species this summer in Oregon as well as in Michigan and Florida is designed to address those concerns.
The soonest the parasitoid could be released is in 2015 and only as a limited, restricted release, according to the release.