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DailyTidings.com
  • Olfactory offenders: Stink bugs invading valley

    Increase in stink bugs might prove tough on orchardists, vintners
  • Insect researchers are finding alarmingly high numbers of non-native stink bugs in Ashland and elsewhere in the Bear Creek Valley, and warn of a potential infestation that could foul homes and damage orchards and vineyards.
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  • Insect researchers are finding alarmingly high numbers of non-native stink bugs in Ashland and elsewhere in the Bear Creek Valley, and warn of a potential infestation that could foul homes and damage orchards and vineyards.
    After a handful of brown marmorated stink bugs surfaced last year, they're popping up regularly this summer in Phoenix, Talent and Ashland. In Medford, the first of these bugs, commonly called Asian stink bugs, was discovered recently under a tree along East Jackson Street.
    Research crews walking the streets of downtown Ashland on Thursday shook stink bug after stink bug from maple and catalpa trees, where they found freshly laid eggs, and juvenile and adult bugs.
    "I was blown away by this," said Nik Wiman, an Oregon State University researcher working on stink bugs to find a way to control them. "I walked all of these neighborhoods and didn't find anything last year. Then all of a sudden this year, they're everywhere. It's pretty impressive.
    "The population is increasing fast," he said. "I'd say we're at the early states (of infestation), but it's certainly coming."
    Unlike native stink bugs, these insects can be considered household pests because they winter over in dwellings and release pungent odors that earn them their names.
    But olfactory offenses aside, they are voracious fruit eaters and they can cling to grapes at harvest time, with their odors altering wines if crushed along with grapes.
    "Oh my goodness, another pest we'll have to deal with," said Ron Meyer of Meyer Orchards near Talent.
    Meyer said there are herbicides available to commercial growers to deal with these non-native bugs, but the insects also will cause problems for gardeners and organic farmers.
    "We'll control them," Meyer said. "We'll do what it takes to protect our crops, but it means it will probably be more expensive."
    Some Willamette Valley vineyards already have been battling these stink bugs by employing machines that shake them off the vines before the grapes are processed, Wiman said.
    Pesticides also can help. Or crop owners can hope that wasps lay their eggs inside the non-native sting bugs' eggs like they do Oregon stink-bug eggs, Wiman said.
    "It's just a matter of them switching over," Wiman said. "They have to adapt over time."
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