Fresh U.S. research may offer relief to bug-ridden Hungary

For the past six to seven years Hungarians have been ineffectively fighting the nuisance of stink bugs, but help may be in sight from U.S. researchers who have found a natural enemy of the bug.

editor: REMIX NEWS

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys, pictured above) first appeared in large numbers in Hungary in the early 2010s due to warmer summers, extended mild autumns and milder winters. It has since become public enemy number one, due to its well… stink and its resistance to pesticides.

Social media is full of largely ineffective advice on how to get rid of them. The issue has become so annoying that several municipalities around the country have also issued similar (and also mostly ineffective) advice to the population.

The Plant Protection Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – mainly on account of the bugs being plant-eating and destroyers of crops – has been conducting reasearch funded by the European Union to combat them. They are working on a solution where pheromone traps would be placed along their migration routes (these bugs travel in large groups). They also promise the first prototypes of the trap would be ready next year.

But U.S. researchers have identified a natural enemy of these bugs, the Samurai wasp (Trissolcus japonicus).

in 2005, entomologist Kim Hoelmer and his team at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Newark, Delaware, turned to a strategy known as classical biological control: They travelled to Asia to find natural enemies of the stink bug that they might release in the United States.

Ever so careful not to cause more harm than good, the U.S. team then began controlled experiments on the possible side-effects of introducing these wasps as a counter-measure. It turned out, however, that the wasps have also appeared alongside the stink bugs, apparently being brought in by the bugs in egg form. Further studies are still needed, but it appears that at least in the U.S. the Samurai wasps have no respect for bureaucracy or environmental regulations.


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