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Virginia soybeans added to stink bug’s farm targets

SUFFOLK—The brown marmorated stink bug has become even more of a pest since being discovered in more than 40 county soybean fields in the state.

The bug was found in soybean fields from the northernmost county in Virginia to those on the North Carolina border, and a stink bug nymph was discovered in a cotton field—perhaps the first ever reported in the United States, said Ames Herbert, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech. He has been conducting research on brown marmorated stink bugs at the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

“I feel like we are in a pest war zone,” he said.

The stink bug’s appetite is varied and voracious. The pests feed on fruits and vegetables, as well as corn, cotton and soybeans, damaging the crops and putting a dent in producers’ pockets.

Treating an infested area can take multiple pesticide applications, which drives up production costs.

“We’ve had native stink bugs, but this particular type is a lot more resistant to pest control methods that have been effective in controlling the native species,” said Spencer Neale, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation senior assistant director of commodity marketing. “This stink bug was accidentally introduced into the United States probably sometime in the 1990s from the Far East, where it was a native species.”

Researchers have ramped up efforts in Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states to monitor the spread of stink bugs and share ideas on how to minimize their damage. “We are putting lots of resources into going deeper into this and trying to learn how to manage this pest,” Herbert said.

He is studying how much pesticide needs to be used on a soybean field to gain control of an infestation. Virginia growers plant an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 acres of soybeans, valued at nearly $250 million, annually.

Contact Herbert at 757-657-6450 or Neale at 804-290-1153.
Posted in: Soybeans


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