Stink bugs invading Mid-Michigan farms, homes - WNEM TV 5

Stink bugs invading Mid-Michigan farms, homes

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Michigan is being attacked by invaders known for raising a stink but with a serious reputation for damaging crops.

The little raider is the brown marmorated stink bug and if you step on it or crush it you're likely to get a whiff of something that smells like decaying almonds or rotting cherries.

As fall settles in, many of us will visit the orchard for fresh apple cider and donuts. As farmers prepare for the rush of people, they're trying to deal with some unwanted visitors.

"They just stick in, feed, and draw it out,” Charlie Mueller said.

Just like that, the invasive brown marmorated stink bug cuts into profits. Mueller said it’s the first time the Asian bug has shown its ugly head at Mid-Michigan farms.

“These things, there won’t be a bug in the orchard. The next day, the orchard could be covered in them,” Mueller said.

Mueller said the bugs feed on his apples and damage them.

“Those spots will show up in sauce or slice apples and they look like impurities,” Mueller said.

While they’re not necessarily spoiled, farmers lose nearly 10 cents a pound turning the damaged apples into cider.

“Brown marmorated stink bugs are going to cause a serious disruption to our agricultural production here in Michigan,” said Bob Tritten, with MSU Extension.

Tritten said the bugs don’t only ruin apples, they also feast on vegetables like sweet corn and peppers.

He's a fruit educator for the Michigan State University Extension. He said since 2010, states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have dealt with the infestation and the repercussions. 

"Eventually, this is going to drive up the cost of production and from the consumer's perspective, it'll mean down the road higher prices for our fruit and vegetable products," Tritten said. 

Tritten said the stink bug doesn't have a natural predator and the only way to deal with it is to apply more pesticides, which isn't cheap. 

"In Pennsylvania and in Jersey, they have pretty much learned how to handle them. And that's what we'll have to do. They've had to change their spray schedules, they've had to go from five or six sprays to 14 sprays to get through the season and keep them. It'll be expensive," Tritten said. 

For homeowners worried about stink bugs getting in, start with prevention. 

Seal cracks around windows, doors and any place the bugs can enter. 

Once inside, they're extremely difficult to control. 

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