Planet Princeton

Polar Vortex Probably Won’t Keep the Stink Bugs at Bay, Rutgers Expert Says

stinkbugContrary to recent newspaper reports, the brutal winter cold and snow this year probably won’t decrease the stink bug population much in New Jersey, according to the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension.

The brown marmorated stink bug, a growing nuisance for farmers and residents in the Garden State in recent years, likely won’t be affected much by the cold temperatures.

The insects do have something similar to antifreeze in their blood and three is a critical freezing temperature at which most species will die, experts say. Preliminary research by Dr. Tom Kuhar at Virginia Tech says the super cooling point when the blood freezes for stink bugs is five degrees farenheit.

“However, the brown marmorated stink bug spends its winter with you, tucked inside the attic and under the eaves of houses, in boxes, under tarps, etc., where it is warmer,” wrote Anne Nielsen of the Rutgers Extension in a plant and pest advisory released yesterday. “They are in a reproductive diapause at this point, meaning that adults have physically prepared themselves to survive cold temperatures, and snow further acts to insulate the populations.”

Nielsen noted that in Japan  they say lots of snow in the winter means lots of stink bugs in the summer.

“Research by Dr. K. Kiritani in Japan shows that the brown marmorated stink bug  is better adapted at surviving the winter than other stink bug species,” Nielsen wrote. “There are many factors that contribute to winter mortality or survival and previous research suggests — 20 percent winter mortality for the brown marmorated stink bug in any given year, regardless of weather.:

Her advice to New Jersey farmers: “Since the polar vortex may not keep the stink bugs at bay, keep monitoring your crops in the mid-late Spring for the initial dispersal of stink bugs.”

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Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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