Soybean acres are up in Virginia and so are concerns about two relatively new imported pests, brown marmorated stink bugs and kudzu bugs.

Virginia soybean growers planted about 600,000 acres of soybeans this year, but few imagined prices would be pushing $20 a bushel ($18.39 on the last day of August) by the time they will harvest this year’s crop.

The increased value of this year’s bean crop makes late season insect control all the more imperative.

Neither kudzu bugs nor brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) are entirely new to Virginia growers. Last year BMSB infested soybean fields in a relatively small area of the state. They moved into commercial soybean fields early and typically didn’t move far into the fields.

(For an earlier report on the situation, see New insect pests converging on Virginia soybeans).

As a result, Virginia Tech Entomologist and state IPM Leader Ames Herbert helped develop a program that recommended growers spray one-time on the field edges with one of any number of insecticide products.

This limited management tool seemed to work fine last year. This year Herbert says the Asian imports aren’t playing by the rules. We are finding BMSB well into soybean fields and they appear to be coming into commercial fields at slower pace than last year, but also seem to be spreading out over a bigger part of the state, he notes.

This is only the second year these particular stink bugs have been known to infest commercial soybean fields in Virginia. As a result of the short learning curve, researchers and growers alike are being forced to make some of the rules for management for these pests on the run.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a native of Asia, hence its’ common nickname Asian stink bug, and was first found in and around Allentown, Pa. in the early 2000s. It was mostly a problem for homeowners and gardeners for the first few years, but now seems destined to become a major pest of agricultural crops.

BMSB is native to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Since its first occurrence primarily as a household pest in Pennsylvania, BMSB has been reported in over 20 eastern and southern states ranging from Maine to Mississippi, as well as Ohio, California and Oregon.

Entomologists across the country seem to believe the distribution of BMSB is much wider than currently documented and that detections will increase with greater public awareness of this pest.

This insect is a strong flyer and readily hitchhikes on vehicles, thereby contributing to the rapid spread of this pest.

Though similar to its common cousins brown stink bugs, green stink bugs and Southern green stink bugs, the Asian version has some unique and troubling characteristics.

The native stink bugs tend to over-winter in wooded areas in and around agricultural fields. The Asian stink bugs have shown a propensity to over-winter in urban areas, specifically in very high populations in houses, sheds, barns and other structures.