August 19, 2010

Stink bugs are now appearing in soybean fields. It's important for producers to correctly identify these bugs and distinguish them from beneficial insects and new stink bugs that may enter the state this year.

"Generally, stink bugs are attracted by blooms, but they actually damage the plant by feeding on the pods," said Doug Johnson, extension entomologist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Brown and green stink bugs are common in Kentucky. Other stink bug species also are found but in much smaller numbers. Generally, producers control all of these species the same way.

Beneficial insects, including the spined shoulder bug and spined assassin bug, are very similar in appearance to the brown stink bug. It's important for growers to correctly identify the type of bug in their field before making a control decision, so beneficial insects can continue to control pest populations.

Additionally, producers should watch for three new species of stink bugs in the fields this year. These species are the red-banded, brown marmorated and bean plastid. All three are in bordering states. Johnson, UK Extension entomologist Ric Bessin and county extension agents are particularly interested in these pests, because they have different control methods than the stink bug species commonly found here. The red-banded stink bug is known to need multiple insecticide applications before it's controlled. All three are attracted to soybeans, but the brown marmorated and bean plastid stink bugs also are known to invade other crops and buildings.

"Because of their different damage potential and ease of control, it's important for us to know which of these stink bugs are in our fields," Johnson said.

Entomologists and county agents are interested in getting an estimate of stink bug populations in fields, so they can determine how the numbers change when the new stink bug species arrive in the state. They'd also like to know when and where the new species first appear, so they can determine how the pests may affect the state's crop production systems. Producers can send stink bugs samples to their county extension agriculture and natural resources agent or to Johnson at the UK Research and Education Center, 1205 S. Hopkinsville St., Princeton, KY 42445.

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