Stink Bug Battles Continue in Region

W.Va. asks EPA to OK insecticide for orchards

Monday, May 9, 2011  |  Updated 1:28 PM EDT
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West Virginia agriculture officials are asking the Environmental Protection Agency for help in combating the marmorated stink bug.

If only the rest of us could do the same...

The state Department of Agriculture said Monday that it has asked the EPA to allow the use of the insecticide dinetefuran in mid-Atlantic orchards. The agency said scientists at Virginia Tech
and experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have made similar requests.

West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass said the marmorated stink bug devastated some fruit growers' crops last year. He said the problem will continue without an effective way to control the insect.

Dinetefuran is approved for use on vegetables, grapes and cotton in the United States, but not in orchards.

Meanwhile, as WAMU reported last month, the Department of Agriculture in Newark, Del., is working on another possible solution -- wasps.

Parasitoid trissolcus wasps from China, Japan and Korea don't bite or sting, and they feed on nectar, but in Asia, they are the natural nemesis of the brown marmorated stink bug.

"These small wasps will deposit their eggs inside the stink bug eggs. Then the parasite egg hatches, and the immature feeds on the inside of the stink bug egg," entomologist Kim Hoelmer told WAMU.

In a few weeks, a new wasp emerges -- and no stink bug.

"If they can't find stink bugs or stink bug eggs to lay their own eggs in, they'll die. They can't survive on anything else," he told WAMU.

That's the good news. The bad news: It could take three years before entomologists are satisfied that the wasps don't pose a risk to other insects.

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