Brown Marmorated Stink Bug focus of feeding studies in lab

Two undergraduate research projects in our lab are focused on feeding habits of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). This invasive pest was first found in Wisconsin in 2010, has become a nuisance overwintering in houses in Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay areas, and just this past summer was found in apple orchards. We’re hoping to stay ahead of the curve, to prevent BMSB from becoming a major agricultural pest in the state. 

The two projects we’re working on in the lab at the moment with BMSB are:

Kate Handberg is looking at the suitability of Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) to serve as a host plant for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys (BMSB). BMSB is a major pest across a wide range of ornamental plants and crops. During early spring, when BMSB is emerging from diapause, few of its known host plants are available. It is unknown which plants allow for BMSB to develop during this time. Mullein is a perennial plant that may serve as an important early season host for BMSB. I compared the developmental times and fecundity of BMSB on Mullein to a known crop host (green bean, Phaseolus vulgaris). Preliminary results suggest Mullein can serve as a suitable host for BMSB. This knowledge helps us predict dispersal patterns of BMSB and develop more effective management plans.

Makaila Wallin is examining whether cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a suitable host for the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys, (BMSB)). BMSB is a pest on many agricultural crops, yet it is unknown if BMSB exploits cranberries. Cranberries are an important crop in Wisconsin, contributing over $300 million dollars to local revenue. I am measuring the development and feeding pressure of BMSB on cranberries relative to a closely related known food-source for BMSB (blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum). Preliminary results indicate cranberry is a suitable host of BMSB. As BMSB populations expand, it is important to understand which crops are at risk for damage and the early identification of suitable BMSB hosts allows us to develop more effective management practices.