When the 2010 growing season begins, Ric Bessin and Doug Johnson, entomologists in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, will be on the lookout for the state's first-ever appearance of three species of stink bugs.

The brown marmorated, red-banded and bean plastid stink bugs are invasive, not native, and potential pests of soybeans. Some of them can also be pests of fruits and vegetables and home nuisances. While these stink bugs have not been found in Kentucky, they are in neighboring states.

"While we haven't seen them yet, it's important to know when and where they are, so we can get a handle on them if they do appear in the state," Johnson said. "If you find a bug that emits a bad odor or is unfamiliar in your plants or home, you should send it to your county agent to get it identified."

The brown marmorated stink bug is native to Asia and arrived in the United States in packing material. It is a major pest of fruits and vegetables. In addition, it invades homes in the fall and emits a foul odor that is a nuisance for homeowners. It has been a major structural pest problem on the East Coast.

The red-banded stink bug has been found as close as the Missouri counties across the Mississippi River from Kentucky. It is native to South America and is a known pest of soybeans in Louisiana. It is also in Arkansas and Tennessee.

The bug is attracted to soybean blooms and can damage pods, much like the green, brown and southern green stink bugs. Growers should scout their fields for this pest in mid-summer.

"The red-banded stink bug is very difficult to control with conventional insecticides," Johnson said. "In Louisiana, it requires three insecticide treatments to control. This can become very expensive for farmers."

Mostly green with red across its back, the red-banded stink bug is easily confused with the red shoulder stink bug that is already in Kentucky. Johnson said if growers find a bug like this, they should send it to their county agent because they won't be able to tell the two apart.

The bean plastid stink bug was first found in northeast Georgia in 2009. A native of East Asia, the bug is a known pest of all legume plants there. However, it has yet to be a pest of soybeans in Georgia. Like the brown marmorated stink bugs, they emit a foul odor and can invade homes.