BURLINGTON - Vermont has the dubious honor of hosting yet another new illegal alien of the insect kind-the stink bug. The bug, which poses a threat to the state's apple crop, was first detected here a few weeks ago.
"As if Vermont didn't have enough serious invasive introduced exotic pests to watch for, such as the emerald ash borer and Asian long-horned beetle, we now have another Asian import-the brown marmorated stink bug," according to Dr. Leonard Perry, a professor at the University of Vermont Extension.
Perry alerted orchard owners and gardeners that the stink bug took up residence in Vermont just this year. It has been in the U.S. over a decade slowly moving north. It now calls 32 states home.
"It feeds on many fruits, vegetables, and farm crops, either making them inedible or unsaleable," Perry noted. "This stink bug is a nuisance in homes as well."
First detected in eastern Pennsylvania in the mid 1990s, this bug likely arrived in imported packing material from Asia. Even in its native China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan it is a formidable farm pest.
"This pest has caused widespread damage to apples and peaches in mid-Atlantic states," according to Perry. "Apples end up with many brown spots, called 'cat facing', that makes them unmarketable. Other fruit crops it damages with dead spots include other stone fruits like cherries, pear, grapes, and brambles. Host vegetable crops include corn, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, and peppers among others."
According to UVM's Perry, apple trees aren't the only local plant threatened by the stink bug invasion.
In addition to its traditional apple crop, Vermont's agricultural scene has seen the recent growth of commercial, albeit boutique level, wine-grape production in the Champlain Valley.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the bug's stinky chemical has been known to cause allergic skin reactions.