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AGRIBUSINESS: Stink Bug Invading Iowa

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The Emerald Ash Borer will infest Ash trees, but what about an agricultural pest that's getting into your home?

The brown marmorated stink bug is a relative newcomer to Iowa, first appearing in 2012.

Since then, it's been found in 11 Iowa counties.

The Emerald Ash Borer may stick to traveling from county to county in firewood and ash wood; the brown marmorated stink bug hitchhikes too, but it's not nearly as picky in terms of what it will ride on. It also overwinters in homes, garages and barns, which keeps winter population losses low.

It's also classified as a true bug, due to its piercing beak, called a stylet, which it uses to feed. State Entomologist Robin Pruisner says that's exactly why it's such an agricultural pest.

"In corn and soybeans in Iowa it's going to be a grain and seed quality issue because it likes to feed right through the husk or pod and feed directly on that seed. It causes a reduction in seed quality as well as grain quality."

Controlling the brown marmorated stink bug is a challenge. It pierces plant tissue to feed and bypasses insecticide coatings on the outsides of plants. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is currently examining which natural predators, such as parasitic wasps and fungi, could be released in the United States to keep the population in check.

Pruisner estimates the brown marmorated stink bug threatens $21 billion worth of crops in the United States alone.

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