Entomologists Sniff Out New Stink Bug

BEAUMONT — Entomologists in Texas got a whiff of a new stink bug doing economic damage to soybeans in Texas and are developing ways to help farmers combat it, according to a report in the journal Environmental Entomology.

Dr. Suhas Vyavhare walks through a field with a sprayer

Dr. Suhas Vyavhare, began working on the problem of redbanded stink bugs in Texas soybeans while still a graduate student. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Mo Way, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center-Beaumont)

Various types of stink bugs have long been a problem on soybean crops, but when sweeps of fields in southeast Texas netted 65 percent redbanded stink bugs, entomologists realized this particular bug had become the predominant pest problem, according to Dr. Mo Way, an entomologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Beaumont.

The problem was no one in the U.S. knew much about the redbanded stink bug and how it had been able to overcome the previously predominant southern green stink bug, green stink bug and brown stink bug, Way said. An insect’s life cycle and biology have to be understood before scientists can figure out ways to control it.

Texas farmers plant a little less than 200,000 acres of soybeans a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

redbanded stink bug on a soybean leav

Redbanded stink bug. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Mo Way, Texas A&M AgriLife Research-Beamont)

“The redbanded stink bug has been a serious pest of soybeans in South America since the 1960s,” said Dr. Suhas Vyavhare, a postdoc at the Beaumont center who began his work on the insect as a graduate student there. “It was never a problem in the United States until around 2000. Prior to that, it was known to be in the soybean fields, but that’s when it was first reported in Louisiana as being an economic pest.”

Not only did the research team find insect numbers at economically damaging levels in Texas but also determined that the redbanded stink bug was becoming resistant to the organophosphate chemical that previously had provided effective control, said Vyavhare, who collaborated with Way and AgriLife Research entomologist Dr. Raul Medina in College Station.

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