Wet Weather May Have Cut Stink Bug Numbers

Bugs may have drowned: researcher

Monday, Feb 6, 2012  |  Updated 7:21 AM EDT
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Where Have All the Stink Bugs Gone?

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Researchers are saying this year, there are fewer brown marmorated stink bugs in the region.

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Stink bug numbers are down, and researchers say they suspect the wet fall weather across the mid-Atlantic may be the reason.

Jerry Burst, a pest management and vegetable specialist at the University of Maryland's Central Maryland Research and Education Center in Upper Marlboro, told The Baltimore Sun wet weather associated with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee probably knocked many of the bugs off trees and crops and drowned them. However, researchers say predators or parasites also could be responsible.

From the Sun:

"We suspect it was heavy rain because of the regional effect on them," said Tracy Leskey, research entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "The population is substantially lower, but we don't know the reason definitely."

Scientists speculated that nymphs, early-stage stink bugs, were particularly affected by the deluge of rain and strong wind that battered the region from the end of August into September

Researchers say they are also keeping an eye on the warm winter, noting mild temperatures preceded an extensive infestation in 2010. But University of Maryland professor Mike Raupp says a cold snap following warm weather could also cut stink bug numbers.

Scientists still caution farmers and residents that despite the lower numbers, the infestation is far from over.  "Any decline is welcomed," Leskey told the Sun.  "But there's still plenty of them out there."

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