The extent of damage caused by brown marmorated stink bugs and kudzu bugs in Virginia is not known for certain, but having both Asian imports meet in several counties in Virginia is cause enough for entomologists and growers in both North Carolina and Virginia to take notice.

Since the north to south movement of brown marmorated stink bugs began, researchers have tracked their relatively slow migration. In 2009, when kudzu bugs were first found in north Georgia and began a rapid south to north movement, the tracking game took on a new intensity.

Kudzu bugs rapidly infested both Carolinas and a few made it to Virginia in 2011.

This year larger, though as of yet not damaging numbers of kudzu bugs, have shown up in Virginia. Figuring out where the overlap of the two insects would meet has been an ongoing challenge, but it appears the first duel battleground will be in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina.

Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) have been around for more than 10 years, first showing up in Pennsylvania in about 2000. In the past few years, they appear to have made a determined movement southward into Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, and most recently into North Carolina.

Though the BMSB spread southward has been slow as insect migrations usually go, this particular stink bug has created some widespread and sporadic problems for farmers.

Perhaps the biggest problem has been in the grape and fruit production areas of northern Virginia. Wine grape growers in particular have had a difficult time with the foul-smelling insects when they burrow down into the whorl of grape plants.

In the past three years, BMSB have been found in soybeans in Virginia. In 2011, the infestations were heavy at times, but generally confined to the outer rows of soybean fields. This year these insects were found throughout much of Virginia, a big spread in a year’s time for this particular insect, but infestations were not heavy in any one area.

Virginia Tech Entomologist and State IPM Leader Ames Herbert has been tracking the movement of these insects and studying their biological traits for the past three years.