The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys) is an invasive species of insect that is endangering Oregon state agriculture. According to Max Ragozzino, a biological control entomologist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the bugs damage tree fruit and vegetable crops.
Ragozzino says the insect can feed on hundreds of plant species, will lay its eggs on non-plant materials such as plastic and fabric, and is known to overwinter in manmade environments, including shipping containers. “We don’t know exactly how it first got to the US, but we think it was accidentally imported alongside other goods,” Ragozzino said.
Nik Wiman, an associate professor in the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences, stated that the first BMSB to be detected in Oregon was found in Portland in 2004. Wiman says OSU has been researching the bugs for a decade.
The damage caused by BMSBs is a significant problem for fruits and nuts. In Oregon, several economically significant crops are at risk for damage, among them the state’s apples, pears and hazelnuts.
Data shows that in 2020, Oregon’s hazelnut production was valued at $132.3 million, making the nut the state’s tenth most valuable agricultural product. According to Michael Severeid, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Willamette Hazelnut, bug damage will not directly affect hazelnut prices, however there will still be an impact on producers.