Link Link Link

common name: brown marmorated stink bug
scientific name: Halyomorpha halys Stål (Insecta: Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)

Introduction - Synonymy - Distribution - Description - Life Cycle - Economic Importance - Damage - Nuisance Pest Status - Management - Reporting - Selected References

Introduction (Back to Top)

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys Stål, is a pest that was first officially reported from the western hemisphere in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2001 (Hoebeke and Carter 2003). This stink bug may become a major agricultural pest in North America, similar to the southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula (L.). Both species are polyphagous pests of various crops, but in the U.S. it has been primarily reported as a household nuisance and ornamental pest. However, in eastern Asia where the BMSB is native or indigenous, it is a pest on fruit trees and soybeans.

An egg mass of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, and newly emerged 1st instar nymphs are shown.

Figure 1. An egg mass of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, and newly emerged 1st instar nymphs are shown. Photograph by Karen Bernhard, Lehigh County Extension, Pennsylvania State University.

Synonymy (Back to Top)

There is considerable confusion in the genus and a revision is needed. All references to Halyomorpha species in Japan, Korea, and east-China are Halyomorpha halys (Rider 2005).

Distribution (Back to Top)

Although the first specimen was positively identified in 2001 (Hoebeke and Carter 2003), there were numerous reports of a nuisance stink bug in Allentown, Pennsylvania, at least several years prior to that date. Interviews with homeowners indicated that there were likely breeding populations in Allentown as early as 1996, and BMSB has been reported in 34 Pennsylvania counties as of 2011 (Hoebeke and Carter 2003, Jacobs 1996). BMSB has been reported as detected and/or intercepted in several U.S. states. If you have questions regarding BMSB distribution in your state, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Service, State Department of Agriculture, or National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) laboratory.

Description (Back to Top)

Typical of other stink bugs, the BMSB has a shield-shaped body and emits a pungent odor when disturbed. With a mottled brown, 12 to 17 mm long (approximately 1/2 inch) body, it has characteristic alternating dark and light bands across the last two antennal segments that appear as a single white band in both nymphs and adults. This is the most distinguishing characteristic in the field, although it can easily be confused with other hemipterans, including native brown stink bugs from the genera Acrosternum, Brochymen, Euschistus and Parabrochymena (Eger personal communication, Hobeke and Carter 2003).

Example species that could be confused with the brown marmorated stinkbug include Brochymena spp.; the brown stink bug, Euschitus servus; the green stink bug, Acrosternum hilare; leaf-footed bugs; boxelder bugs; Euthyrhynchus floridanus; and other similar hemipterans.

Eggs: The white or pale green barrel-shaped eggs are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves. Egg masses have about 25 eggs that are only about 1 mm in diameter but become apparent when nymphs have recently emerged, as they will stay at the egg mass for several days. In Pennsylvania, eggs first appeared in late June, but females continued to lay egg masses until September. Although only one generation was observed, multiple generations are likely as the distribution spreads to the south (Bernon et al. 2004).

Nymphs: As with all immature stink bugs, the nymphs lack fully developed wings and have been described as tick-like in appearance, ranging in size from 2.4 mm (1st instar) to 12 mm (5th instar). Nymphs need to molt, or shed their outer skin (exoskeleton), as they progress through five different stages or nymphal instars. First instars are colored orange or red and remain clustered around the egg mass, sometimes until they molt to the 2nd instar stage. The 2nd instar begins to develop an almost black appearance, and subsequent instars (3rd, 4th, and 5th) begin to acquire more of the adult BMSB coloration.

First and 2nd instar nymphs are shown dispersing from an egg mass of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Figure 2. First and 2nd instar nymphs are shown dispersing from an egg mass of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Gary Bernon, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

A 2nd instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål. The white marking on the antennae is possibly the best field identification characteristic.

Figure 3. A 2nd instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål. The white marking on the antennae is possibly the best field identification characteristic. Photograph by Deepak Matadha, Rutgers University.

Fifth instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, on raspberry in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Figure 4. Fifth instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, on raspberry in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Gary Bernon, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Adults: Adults are 12 to17 mm long (approximately 1/2 inch), and have a mottled appearance. Alternating dark and light bands occur on the last two antennal segments. Additionally, the head and pronotum are covered with patches of coppery or bluish metallic-colored punctures and the margins of the pronotum are smooth as compared to the toothed, jagged pronotal margin of Brochymena (Hoebeke 2002). The exposed lateral margins of the abdomen are marked with alternate bands of brown and white. Faint white bands are also evident on the legs.

Two adults and one 5th instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, in Allentown, Pennsylvania on crab apple.

Figure 5. Two adults and one 5th instar nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, in Allentown, Pennsylvania on crab apple. Photograph by Gary Bernon, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Life Cycle (Back to Top)

In Pennsylvania, the BMSB has only one generation a year, corresponding to the northern part of its native range. However, in southern China up to five generations occur each year, and the same pattern can be expected as the BMSB spreads south (Hoebeke and Carter 2003, Hoffmann 1931). The adults mate in the spring approximately two weeks after emerging from diapause or the resting phase. After a short period, the females begin laying egg masses. Egg masses are laid at approximately weekly intervals, and each female lays as many as 400 eggs in her lifetime. In Pennsylvania, females were observed laying eggs from June to September. Since females continue to lay new egg masses throughout the season, different nymphal stages were often observed on the same host plant.

First instar nymphs emerge four to five days after eggs are laid. Nymphs are solitary feeders, but they occasionally aggregate between overlapping leaves or leaf folds (Bernon et al. 2004). BMSB has five nymphal instars, and each stage lasts approximately one week, depending upon temperature. Laboratory studies indicate that adults are sexually mature two weeks after their final molt (Hoebeke and Carter 2003). Adults are very active and drop from plants or fly when disturbed. Again, the best field characteristic for adults is the white band on the antennae.

Six 5th instar nymphs of brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, with one 5th instar nymph of green stink bug, Acrosternum hilare (Say) in Allentown, Pennsylvania on black cherry.

Figure 6. Six 5th instar nymphs of brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, with one 5th instar nymph of green stink bug, Acrosternum hilare (Say) in Allentown, Pennsylvania on black cherry. Photograph by Gary Bernon, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Economic Importance (Back to Top)

BMSB is polyphagous, and is a pest of several important crops in its native range. In Japan it attacks shade and fruit trees, vegetables, and leguminous crops (Hoebeke 2002). In southern China, it feeds on flowers, stems and pods of various legumes, and also on:

Other host plants of economic importance include:

(Hoebeke 2002, Hoebeke and Carter 2003).

Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the damage caused by one species of stink bug, since several species cause similar damage. A similar situation may occur in the southern U.S., as the BMSB spreads south and overlaps with the distribution of the southern green stink bug (Bernon 2004 et al.).

Originally, populations in Pennsylvania were limited to ornamental plants, garden crops, and fruit and shade trees in suburban areas and urban landscapes (Bernon et al. 2004). Damage was observed on several ornamentals, including butterfly-bush (Buddleia spp.), and the princess tree (P. tomentosa). Both adults and nymphs fed on the leaves of these two host plants, and leaf damage was very apparent by the end of the season (Bernon et al. 2004). These two ornamentals may attract the stink bug as it spreads to new areas, and homeowners are likely to be the first to see this new pest. Significant damage was also reported on urban peach and pear crops. Following the first official identification of BMSB, Bernon et al. (2004) found BMSB on over 60 host plants.

As the BMSB continues to expand its range, it is likely to invade agricultural areas and may pose a risk to various crops. Nielson and Hamilton (2009) conducted an extensive study of BMSB populations at farms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and found approximately 25% damage per fruit tree. These studies critically indicate the potentially increasing pest pressure that may occur in tree fruits, particularly pears, apples, and peaches, as a result of the introduction of BMSB. Nielsen and Hamilton (2009) predict that pest pressure from BMSB could be more severe in southern U.S. peach-producing states, as it is possible that more than two generations per year would occur in warmer climates.

Early and late instar nymphs of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on Asian pear in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Figure 7. Early and late instar nymphs of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on Asian pear in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Deepak Matadha, Rutgers University.

Nymphs of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on green beans in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Figure 8. Nymphs of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on green beans in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Deepak Matadha, Rutgers University.

Adults of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on peach in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Characteristic damage is evident.

Figure 9. Adults of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on peach in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Characteristic damage is evident. Photograph by Gary Bernon, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Two adults and a nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on one of its main hosts, princess tree in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Characteristic feeding damage of the brown marmorated stink bug is also evident. Late instar nymphs of leaf-footed bugs (Hemiptera: Coreidae) are often mistakenly submitted as brown marmorated stink bug samples. The Coreidae pictured is probably the western conifer seed bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis Heidemann.

Figure 10. Two adults and a nymph of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål, feeding on one of its main hosts, princess tree in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Characteristic feeding damage of the brown marmorated stink bug is also evident. Late instar nymphs of leaf-footed bugs (Hemiptera: Coreidae) are often mistakenly submitted as brown marmorated stink bug samples. The Coreidae pictured is probably the western conifer seed bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis Heidemann. Photograph by Gary Bernon, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Damage (Back to Top)

Similar to other stink bugs, the nymphs and adults have a piercing-sucking type of mouthpart. In order to obtain the nutrients of the liquid part of the fruit, stink bugs use these mouthparts in a straw-like fashion by piercing the fruit. Small necrotic spots on fruit and leaf surfaces often result from feeding damage, and it may be compounded by secondary infections and scarring as the fruit matures. In particular, affected apples often exhibit pitting and discoloration symptoms and peaches frequently display a characteristic distortion referred to as "catfacing" (Hamilton and Shearer 2003). Even if a fruit such as a peach is still edible, it may not be suitable for market. Similar damage to other crops, such as soybeans, is more likely to occur in the southern U.S. Because the BMSB is polyphagous, or feeding on a wide range of host plants, almost any crop with fruit may be at risk.

In addition to direct feeding damage, The BMSB is also known to potentially vector or spread a witch's broom phytoplasm in princess tree, Paulownia tomentosa, in Asia (Jones and Lambdin 2009). Incidences of vector transmission of BMSB in the U.S. have not been reported.

Nuisance Pest Status (Back to Top)

Late in the season, adults will enter homes and other buildings when seeking sheltered sites to overwinter or diapause. During the several weeks of peak flight, many insects can enter homes through any small opening, mostly around windows. In Japan, the BMSB is a well-known nuisance pest for this reason, and the same situation is now common in Allentown, Pennsylvania in late September and early October. This nuisance behavior resulted in many complaints to the Lehigh County (Allentown) Cooperative Extension Service, and ultimately resulted in the identification of this new invasive pest. As the insect spreads to new areas, this aggregation behavior will probably again attract attention and ironically assist in monitoring its distribution. The nuisance aspect is a major concern in suburban areas and may distract from the potential future agricultural risks (Bernon 2004).

Management (Back to Top)

The effectiveness of various insecticide classes to control of BMSB is evaluated in Nielsen et al. (2008). Remember to read and follow all pesticide labels prior to attempting application. In some cases, pesticide application must be conducted by a pest control applicator. A newly described species, Trissolcus halymorphae Yang (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) is an egg parasitoid that has been identified as the primary biological control agent responsible for the management of BMSB in northern China (Yang et al. 2009). This parasitoid averages a 50% mortality rate for BMSB populations, and it was the only natural enemy identified with a mortality rate exceeding 10%. Trissolcus halymorphae is currently not known to occur in the U.S. with existing populations of BMSB. Future management of BMSB populations in orchards or other commodity-based fields will probably consist of a combination of integration of reduced-risk pesticides and biological control.

Telenomus podisi (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae), a generalist stink bug parasitoid that was recently recorded for the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål. The host plant in this photo is a princess tree, Paulownia tomentosa, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Figure 11. Telenomus podisi (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae), a generalist stink bug parasitoid that was recently recorded for the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stål. The host plant in this photo is a princess tree, Paulownia tomentosa, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Gary Bernon, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Indoor nuisance pest problems. Mechanical exclusion and chemical control have been suggested for preventing nuisance, overwintering pest problems in residential homes and commercial businesses (Jacobs 2009). BMSB can be mechanically excluded by sealing cracks and other building openings with quality silicone or silicone latex caulk. Damaged screens on doors or windows should be repaired or replaced. Some synthetic pyrethroid insecticides available to commercial pesticide applicators may be applied to the exterior of the home just prior to fall aggregations, but the effectiveness of these chemical sprays is only temporary. Sunlight will degrade synthetic pyrethroid insecticides within a few days to a week of the application.

Urban pest management. Occasionally stink bugs were observed to damage ornamentals in Allentown, including butterfly bush, Paulownia shade trees and crabapples. Although insecticides were used, plant damage was minimal and most control efforts were focused on suppression of nuisance population. Despite insecticidal treatments, some damage was still observed on backyard fruit trees. This documented damage to agriculturally important crops suggests that there will be a need for IPM when populations reach agricultural areas (Bernon et al. 2004).

Reporting (Back to Top)

Reporting in Florida. Please report suspect BMSB samples to the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Service (CES) or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry. Although the brown mottled color is distinctive, there are several native species of brownish stink bugs that will look very similar to the BMSB. Established populations of BMSB have not been confirmed in Florida, and specimen identification will need to be confirmed by a specialist. Only dead specimens should be mailed to county CES offices or diagnostic laboratories.

Selected References (Back to Top)