Award Gallery

Specialty Crop Initiative Coordinated Agriculture Project The BMSB

Award: Educational Institution and Federal Laboratory Partnership

Year: 2017

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This multiparty, joint effort that includes multiple and coordinated research projects culminating in research results has led to patents, products, and strategies for combating the invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB).

An invasive stink bug native to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, the BMSB is now reported to be present in over 40 states. In 2010, BMSB feeding caused injury to greater than 50% of the stone and pome fruit crops in the Mid-Atlantic region ($37 million loss to apple alone). In that year, many vegetables in areas with high BMSB infestation were rendered unmarketable or downgraded for processing, and commercial and subsistence farms reported instances of total crop losses. The value of at-risk specialty crops in states where the BMSB has been detected is well over $20 billion. Without immediate intervention, the BMSB could have put many farmers out of business and dismantled sustainable integrated pest management and organic programs.

To combat this huge economic threat to valued food supplies, a nationwide effort was needed to pool and coordinate research and to develop a sustainable, long-term BMSB management program for specialty crop growers. Enter the USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Coordinated Agriculture Project entitled “Biology, Ecology, and Management of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) in Orchard Crops, Small Fruit, Grapes, Vegetables, and Ornamentals,” led and coordinated by Dr. Tracy Leskey of the USDAARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia.

To combat this huge economic threat to valued food supplies, a nationwide effort was needed to pool and coordinate research and to develop a sustainable, long-term BMSB management program for specialty crop growers.

Significant strides in combating these invasive pests have been made by a consortium of over 50 researchers from the ARS at Kearneysville; Beltsville, Maryland; Newark, Delaware; and Corvallis, Oregon; and from land grant institutions across the country, including Cornell University, Penn State University, Rutgers University, University of Maryland, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University and Washington State University.

The team identified specialty crops at the greatest risk of BMSB injury, as well as those that are not, and created a comprehensive host plant list for BMSB in North America found on a dedicated website. The team identified the BMSB pheromone and synergist, and developed a prototype trap and trapping systems for monitoring and surveillance of BMSB presence, abundance, and seasonal activity worldwide. Traps deployed strategically by ARS, with the assistance of partnering land grant institutions and growers, successfully detected the BMSB in apple orchards, allowing growers to make informed management decisions and reduce the use of insecticide sprays against this pest by greater than 40%.

The team’s work immediately mitigated catastrophic injury, saving tens of millions of dollars annually, with the information generated being applied to more than 96,000 acres of specialty crops to date.

Team Members:

Dr. Tracy Leskey, Dr. Kim Hoelmer, Dr. Art Agnello, Dr. Steve Young, Dr. Jim Walgenbach, Dr. Nik Wiman, Dr. Greg Krawczyk, Dr. George Hamilton, Dr. Anne Nielsen, Dr. Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Dr. Joanne Whalen, Dr. Ceruti Hooks, Dr. Paula Shrewsbury, Dr. Chris Bergh, Dr. Tom Kuhar, Dr. Elizabeth Beers