The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is wreaking havoc in U.S. homes, gardens, and agricultural operations, causing personal and economic woe.

Agricultural Research Service scientists are exploring various aspects of monitoring and control of this increasingly important insect pest, which is an invasive Asian species known as a sporadic pest of many tree fruit crops in China, Korea, and Japan.

Along with being a household nuisance, it is a major economic threat to producers of orchard fruits such as apple, peach, and pear; garden vegetables and row crops; and many ornamental species.

Since its detection in the northeastern United States a decade ago, the BMSB has been detected in 38 states and has earned the distinction of being classified as the top invasive insect of interest by the U.S Department of Agriculture.

With economic losses to the apple industry estimated at $37 million in 2010, the bug’s threat to apple growers prompted a Member of Congress to organize a public hearing in western Maryland. There is also concern about the potential damage it could cause to vineyards in California and other states.

Tracy Leskey, with the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.V., is the principal investigator of the research group, which includes several scientists in ARS’s Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.; Jana Lee, an ARS entomologist in Corvallis, Ore.,; and Kim Hoelmer, director of the USDA-ARS European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier, France.

A major project led by Leskey, funded through the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative Program, is called “Biology, Ecology, and Management of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Orchard Crops, Small Fruit, Grapes, Vegetables, and Ornamentals.”

While this is a mouthful, it goes to the heart of the damage that can be caused by this pest. The project is funded for 3 years with $5.7 million in federal funds and $7.3 million in matching funds.

The group includes ARS, Pennsylvania State University, Washington State University, North Carolina State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Rutgers University, Northeastern IPM Center, Oregon State University, University of Maryland, University of Delaware, and Cornell University.

The project will take advantage of research that ARS scientists have conducted on BMSB since it was detected in the United States in 2001. The project’s progress can be followed on its website, stopbmsb.org.