From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Published January 6, 2014 10:07 AM

Stink Bugs: Friend or Foe

Stink bugs are fierce prehistoric looking bugs. Some are indeed quite fierce and others simply stink more than they bite! In many parts of the world including their native range of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is considered an agricultural pest. Yet other genera of stink bugs, specifically the Podisus nigrispinus (Dallas), are considered an important biological control agent for other insect pests in the cotton, soybean, tomato, corn, and kale fields.

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The predatory Podisus nigrispinus (Dallas) feeds primarily on insect larvae and was originally reared and released in Brazil to control lepidopterous larvae, which were defoliating Eucalyptus trees.

Noting their beneficial use as an agricultural control mechanism, researchers for the Entomological Society of America have begun to explore mass rearing of the P. nigrispinus in the laboratory.   A new study appearing in Annals of the Entomological Society of America called "Effect of Egg Rearing Temperature and Storage Time on the Biological Characteristics of the Predatory Stink Bug Podisus nigrispinus (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae)" highlights their results in an effort to help companies that rear these beneficial insects and the growers who use them in the field. This is the first study to examine the storage technique for the predator P. nigrispinus to improve its mass rearing in laboratory conditions without compromising the quality of insects produced.

"Our goal was to evaluate the effect of low temperatures on the biological characteristics of P. nigrispinus, with the aim of optimizing mass-rearing programs for this potential biological control agent," the authors wrote. "The successful storage of eggs at a low temperature is important for the use of natural enemies in pest control programs, as it allows greater flexibility in the mass-rearing process. It also increases the availability of insects for release in the field at the earliest opportunity."

The researchers identifies 15 degrees Celsius as the optimum storage temperature for P. nigrispinus eggs, noting that the eggs could be stored for up to 17 days without significantly affecting most of the biological characteristics.

"Our results suggest that low temperatures can be used to store eggs for mass rearing of this potential biological control agent," the authors write. "This would allow P. nigrispinus to be used in augmentative releases that could be coordinated with pest outbreaks in the field."

Read more at the Entomological Society of America.

Image via Juliana Simonato.

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