Using native parasitic samurai wasps to biologically control stink bugs.

Only about the size of a sesame seed, the samurai wasp has been found in 10 states, including Pennsylvania. Co-evolved with the brown marmorated stink bug in China, Japan, the Koreas and Taiwan, the parasitoid wasp seems to offer the best chance to get invasive stink bug numbers under control. Image: Penn State

Only about the size of a sesame seed, the samurai wasp has been found in 10 states, including Pennsylvania. Co-evolved with the brown marmorated stink bug in China, Japan, the Koreas and Taiwan, the parasitoid wasp seems to offer the best chance to get invasive stink bug numbers under control. Image: Penn State

Team: Grzegorz Krawczyk, Hillary Peterson, Jayson Harper, Shelby Fleischer, and Claire Hirt

In the Mid-Atlantic, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) threatens fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals. In 2010, the pest caused losses of about $35 million just to apple growers. Synthetic pesticides are the most reliable and economical tool to control BMSB, but overuse is hurting beneficial insects and causing outbreaks of secondary pests.

Recent research activities are focusing on the development and validation of effective BMSB monitoring and management strategies. The most effective beneficial insect for biological control of BMSB, the native samurai wasp, develops inside stink bug eggs and quite reliably keeps BMSB populations in check. The samurai wasp has been found in 10 states, including Pennsylvania.

Entomologists may decide to culture and release samurai wasps where populations of BMSB are high and menacing to crops. With the parasitic wasp already occurring naturally in Pennsylvania agroecosystems, efforts will attempt to enhance its survival and distribution within BMSB-affected areas. A team of researchers led by Penn State also found that insecticide-treated nets baited with a BMSB aggregation pheromone and draped over a shepherd’s hook represent a potent new tool for BMSB monitoring and potential management. The “ghost traps” draw and kill hundreds of BMSB adults and nymphs. This new tactic allows some control of BMSB without pesticide application to crops. By reducing the number and volume of insecticide applications, it also indirectly supports the establishment of samurai wasps in and around orchards.

Funding

USDA NIFA and Hatch Appropriations; USDA Agricultural Research Service; State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania

News

Wasp warriors: Entomologists on samurai mission to slay stink bugs

Thematic Area

Advanced Agricultural and Food Systems

Office for Research and Graduate Education

Address

217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600

Office for Research and Graduate Education

Address

217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600