Researchers say they believe they've found where brown marmorated stink bugs hang out during the winter, a finding they say could lead to a better understanding of the pest.
Researchers already know that the pest likes to amass during the fall in residential dwellings, causing stinky problems for homeowners, according to a news release.
They also theorized that brown marmorated stink bugs overwinter in neighboring woods, but they had no idea exactly where.
Thanks to work by Doo-Hyung Lee, a post-doctoral research associate with the Agricultural Research Service, Kearneysville, W.Va., researchers have a little better understanding of where the pest goes when it leaves fields in the fall.
Lee led a survey of forests in Maryland and West Virginia.
Based on the findings, researchers say that the stink bug likes to overwinter in large, dry, dead standing trees with more than a 60-centimeter, or 23-inch, circumference, and particularly oak and locus.
The porous dead tissue and peeling bark provide the pest with a place into which to crawl.
The group then returned to the woods, targeting only trees that met the profile.
They found the stink bug in 33% of those trees, confirming their earlier theory.
But determining overwintering habitat is just part of Lee's efforts.
He is part of a group led by Tracy Leskey, a research entomologist at the ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville.
In months to come, Lee and his colleagues will be using several high-tech devices, including tiny radar antenna mounted on the pests, to determine how far they can fly.