Killer Wasps: The Answer to the Stink Bug Problem?

Scientists are looking for the right parasitoid wasps to kill invasive stink bugs.

Stink bugs are a part of life in Howard County, but scientists are trying to change that. 

In Maryland, Agriculture Research Scientist Don Weber is working in the lab to create pheromones that will lure stink bugs into a trap. By the end of this year, he said, “things will be pretty clear where the private sector can step in and serve various stakeholders,” including farmers and homeowners.

But there may be other options – besides stepping on the bugs – sometime in the near future.

Matt Buffington, a research scientist with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking for a solution to the stink bug problem at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, according to the BBC.

Buffington is keen on wasps.

More specifically, Trissolcus, a parasitoid wasp which controls stink bug populations in Asia by laying their own eggs inside the stink bug eggs, which the baby wasps eat up before the stink bug embryos can fly away to destroy valuable crops or annoy innocent people.

There are more than 70 species of Trissolcus, however; Buffington is looking for just the right one at the Museum of Natural History. For instance, Trissolcus basalis is a species of wasp that attacks stink bugs. But not the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug that we see in Maryland.

They prefer the Southern Green Stink Bug, according to the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

So Buffington continues to search dilligantly for just the right wasp – one that kills BMSBs without harming other, native or benign stink bugs or other insects.

"Otherwise we could be investing millions of taxpayers' dollars in a biological control programme that is either going to be ineffective or potentially disastrous for North American agriculture," he told the BBC, "Because we might release the wrong wasp." 

Then we'd have twice the problem.

emcee April 30, 2013 at 01:43 PM
how do you solve a problem with an invasive species that's not native to the area? Release another invasive species that's not native to the area...... right.
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