The Silent Invasion: How the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is Devastating Crops and Homes

Author: Dr. Miloš Petrović, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad

Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae), an invasive brown marmorated stink bug, has been a major focus of entomologists and plant protection experts in North America and Europe. This polyphagous pest of cultivated plants and ornamentals was first discovered in North America in the mid-1990s and quickly spread to a large number of states in the U.S., where it has become a significant problem for the production of apples, peaches, and many other crops. The brown marmorated stink bug has also been present in Europe since 2004, and it has been causing problems in countries such as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, and Hungary.

A Growing Threat to Agriculture and Comfort

Since 2016 it has been detected in Serbia, and from that time point it started its distribution from far East of the country in both central and North parts. Agricultural engineers and professionals have reported two generations per year in Western Balkan climate. The species overwinters often in large groups (insect mass) in semi-urban and urban areas as an adult. Next year, during April, the adults start to emerge from overwintering sites and first start to feed and then to reproduce. The first generation is often referred to as a serious pest in cherry (both sweet and sour) production, as well as some early varieties of plum and peaches. The second generation which appears during early August often causes serious damage in hazelnut, apple, and late plum production.


The damage is caused both by adults and larvae as they are equipped with strong proboscis (mothpart modified for sucking) which is able to pierce through the toughest fruits. After proboscis injection in the fruit, stink bug ejects saliva full of diverse types of enzymes which start to degrade tissue on a cellular level. After destroying cells, the stink bug starts feeding on externally digested parts of the fruits. The main problem with this type of feeding is the fact that insects bite too many times inside the tissue but feed only on a few of the previously made lesions. By doing this, they destroy so many fruits but feed on so few!

The other main problem, and we know that you have noticed it during the Autumn months is the fact that your house is starting to be a house for your family but also for a number of uninvited guests who are trying to find themself a nice niche for overwintering.

People who are not so fond of insects often know how to overreact to their presence and start to feel anxious. Also, if they crawl inside your closet, forget about smelling your fabric softener after winter months, you are going to smell the distinctive stink bug odour!

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