Stinkbugs are known to threaten summer crops

Published 8:17 am Thursday, July 18, 2019

Stinkbugs are no strangers to crop fields in Covington County and regional extension agent William Birdsong has some tips to fight them off this season.

The Alabama Extension Office sent a press release stating that two species of stinkbugs are causing threats to crops this summer. The brown marmorated stinkbug and the red-banded stinkbug.

“The brown marmorated stinkbug is harder to kill,” Birdsong said. “But if there is a high infestation of them, then it will cause a threat to several crops. At this time, I am not aware of any high infestations in the area causing crop damage.”

Birdsong said this time of year is the stinkbug’s season.

“It is the time of the year for stinkbugs, now that our corn is starting to dry down,” Birdsong said. “The crop that would be most affected by the stinkbug species would be the cotton crop and cotton is a big crop in Covington County.”

There are several cotton croppers in Covington County that are on the watch for stinkbugs.

“You have Tommy Thompson, Jake Poole, Stephen Williams, Barry Ward, Glenn Walker, Wiggins Farm,” Birdsong said. “I know that they are all looking for stinkbugs in their crops.”

The stage that the crops are in now is pristine for stinkbugs infesting them, Birdsong said.

“Most of the crop was planted, I would say, around May 7,” Birdsong said. “Now you are seeing a lot of that cotton start to bloom and starting to set fruit. Here we are on the third week of blooming and that is the prime period to watch and treat for stinkbugs to prevent some major crop loss. We are in stinkbug season. It is a pest that we have to contend with every year.”

Birdsong said that the stinkbugs are highly elusive, which makes them harder to spot for producers.

“You can go into a field and they will fly out because of the heat,” Birdsong said. “But they will fly back at night whenever it gets cooler. What we suggest is to look for quarter size bolls that aren’t fully developed. Maybe bolls that are seven to 14 days old. You’ll need to break it open and it will be soft enough to mash, and the seeds will be very wet. Look at the inside of the boll because once that stinkbug pierces the young tender boll, it is looking for that seed to suck some of the developing proteins of that seed. Whenever that stinkbug damages that boll, then it will leave like a wart on the inside. If you examine the inside and it is smooth, then you don’t have a stinkbug infestation.”

If two or three out of the 10 that a producer examines has a stinkbug infestation, Birdsong recommends looking at a treatment process.

“If I inspect cotton bolls and two or three out of 10 have stinkbug infestations, then that is going to trigger a spray for me,” Birdsong said. “Because I know that it is the time of year that I am flowering.”

People accidentally introduced the brown marmorated stinkbug to the United States from Asia in the 1990s. First found in Pennsylvania, the pest has now spread to much of the country.

Adult BMSB are about three-quarters of an inch long with the shield-like shape characteristic of stinkbugs. While these stink bugs are brown, their whitish antennae bands and patterned abdomen distinguish them from brown stinkbugs.

The red-banded stinkbug is a key pest in soybeans throughout South America and has quickly become a soybean pest in the Southeast. Adults emerge in the spring looking for secondary hosts and move to soybeans when they begin podding.