Wanted, dead or alive: The brown marmorated stink bug

As if the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle weren't enough: In the last few years, a small, brown, smelly invader has moved into the Hudson Valley. It's Halyomorpha halys, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, and it's after your apple trees.

The Daily Freeman reports that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County is trying to document the spread of the insect, and they're encouraging folks to catch these bugs and mail them in.

Anyone who has seen this pest is asked to send a sample to Cornell Cooperative Extension. The bugs should be placed in a small plastic container, such as a medicine bottle or film canister, and a submission form from the extension’s website (http://hudsonvf.cce.cornell.edu/bmsb1.html) should be filled out.

Mail samples to Peter Jentsch, BMSB Project, Cornell Hudson Valley Lab, P.O. Box 727, Highland, N.Y. 12528.

Live specimens will be added to the research colony being created for the Eastern New York Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Project, which began last year.

Be careful when catching these guys, though. They've earned their name, says Wikipedia:

The odor from the stinkbug is due to trans-2-decenal and trans-2-Octenal. The stinkbug's ability to emit a vile odor through holes in its abdomen is a defense mechanism meant to prevent it from being eaten by birds and lizards. However, simply jostling the bug, cornering it, scaring or injuring it, or attempting to remove it from one's house can "set it off". Squashing it is a surefire way of expelling its noxious odor.

Though the Freeman notes that they were found in the Hudson Valley in 2008, they're definitely creeping up the mountains: the Olive Views blog reported in January that a neighbor in Samsonville, a hamlet of Olive, found a few of them in her house over the holidays.

It does seem that they're more of a problem in more southerly climates than they are around here, at least so far. A rather colorful New York Times story about the bug last September says they've become a serious pest of orchards in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“They’re taking money out of your pocket, just like a thief,” said [apple farmer Richard] Masser, flicking stink bugs off his shirt and baseball cap as he overlooked his 325 acres, a few miles south of the Pennsylvania border. “We need to stop them.”

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.