AGRIBUSINESS: USDA Names Top Invasive Insect

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The Emerald Ash Borer is invasive and destructive, but it doesn't directly target agriculture in the way the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug does. For that, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was named USDA's top invasive insect of interest on January 7.

The bug, often shortened to BMSB, appeared in Pennsylvania in 2001 and since that time has spread to 39 states. Iowa is the latest, with breeding infestations discovered by Iowa State University researchers in October of 2012. BMSB is a true bug because of its proboscis, which pierces fruits and vegetables (including corn kernels and soybeans pods) for nutrients, which often causes necrosis of the surrounding tissue.

To counter this threat, USDA's Agricultural Research Service is attempting to sequence its genome in order to find a biological "hack" to reduce population. ARS is also looking into an early-season attractant made using pheromones male BMSBs send out while feeding to attract other bugs to food sources.

BMSB doesn't limit itself to fields and orchards; State Entomologist Robin Pruisner says BMSB rivals the multicolor Asian lady beetle in its ability to invade homes in the winter.

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