Nature's pests, import threats

Recently, this newspaper published a story about the potential threat of the emerald ash borer in Vermont. Well, it's time for the ash borer to share the spotlight because now there's an even more urgent insect threat-the odious stink bug.

This pest was discovered in Vermont a few weeks ago. In the case of the stinky six-legged fellow, commercial crops from apples to backyard veggies may be at risk in the near future.

In the case of the ash borer, the threat is not to commercial agriculture, but rather to one of the state's prime wilderness resources-the ash tree.

The ash borer begins life hungry.

While adult beetles chew on ash foliage with little damage, look out for the beetle's little ones or larvae-they feed like demons within the bark of host ash trees.

The larvae's 24/7 chewing cycle blocks water and nutrients getting to the trees. The result? The ash trees-of which Vermont has millions in its forests-would die of starvation. State researchers have placed traps around the state to get a better of picture of the insect's looming presence.

In the case of the stink bug, the pest has been identified in Vermont and it does not bode well for our commercial and homestead orchards, grape vineyards, and vegetable operations.

In this week's paper, we take a look at the potential threat of a stink bug invasion. If this insect finds the Green Mountain State to its long-term liking, it won't be a pretty picture.

According to UVMExtension's Dr. Leonard Perry, "The stink bug has caused widespread damage to apples and peaches in mid-Atlantic states. Apples end up with many brown spots that make them unmarketable. Other fruit crops it damages with dead spots include fruits like cherries, pear, grapes, and brambles. Host vegetable crops include corn, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, and peppers among others."

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