A behaviorally based approach to managing the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2016: $14,977.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2018
Grant Recipient: Cornell University
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Peter Jentsch
Poma Tech Inc.

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Fruits: apples, peaches, pears, general tree fruits


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Pest Management: chemical control, traps
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal abstract:

    The newly invasive brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has drastically altered production programs requiring fruit and vegetable growers to shift from IPM to disruptive management practices to control this invasive pest. The insect often has two generations in the Hudson Valley, reproducing on over 300 known hosts. Population increase and dispersal during the early and latter part of the season can occur by adult and immatures, making it a season-long pest of tree fruit and vegetable crops in the Northeast. To manage the BMSB, producers rely exclusively on weekly and often season-long applications of broad-spectrum insecticides. These programs are unsustainable and expensive, reducing beneficial insects such as natural enemies and pollinators, causing outbreaks of secondary pests, while negatively impacting worker protection, soil compaction and water quality. As such, Hudson Valley growers are seeking novel strategies to reduce the insecticide impact for managing BMSB. Work conducted by Anne Neilson in peach on a systems-level approach utilizing border applications in combination with IPM practices to manage BMSB will be employed in this study to comprehensively manage key orchard pests of susceptible tree fruit and vegetable crops. Depending on orchard and field size, this approach can reduce insecticide use by 75%, significantly reducing grower production costs. We will compare the study to monitoring methods for management decisions while measuring the impact on natural enemies and secondary pests. Traditional extension outreach will include fruit and vegetable field days and winter school presentations of project methodology.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    New York (NY) is a leading agricultural state, worth over 4.42 billion in 2008. NY ranks 2nd nationally in apple production at $289 million (USDA/NASS, NY Ag Statistics 2014). Tree fruit are susceptible to a complex of insects and diseases, managed through IPM programs using threshold-based applications of reduced risk insecticides and mating disruption. In 2012 high populations of BMSB severely damaged up to 20% of the apple crop on farms in three counties in NYS, including Orange, Ulster and Dutchess Counties. In 2010 there was an estimated $37 million loss in mid- Atlantic apples due to damage from BMSB alone (US Apple, 2011), with individual orchards averaging 60% fruit damage, and some reporting total crop loss (Leskey and Hamilton 2010). BMSB has become a primary mid to late season pest of apple, peach and vegetable (Pepper, tomato and organic sweet corn) while population pressure continues to present yearly damage levels. The continued damage and threat of crop loss from BMSB has significantly reduced the use od IPM programs in tree fruit, as growers revert to using weekly, calendar based, broad-spectrum insecticide applications (Polk et al. 2010). The disruption of fruit IPM programs has also upset the natural enemy complex within orchards leading to secondary pest outbreaks (Leskey et al. 2012). In the Northeast, orchards are experiencing high populations of wooly apple aphids and the return of white peach scale. Growers are looking to develop economically sustainable management tactics for BMSB to reduce insecticide use and the adverse impacts on tree fruit production. A recent NE SARE funded project (ONE13-190, A. Neilson) demonstrated a reduction in insecticide application and associated costs, but utilized an intensive monitoring program to determine BMSB abundance. This method resulted in the observation of only a few BMSB per farm, despite feeding injury demonstrating high BMSB pressure, which suggests an insufficient monitoring method. Cooperating growers have become very interested in expanding this study to NY apples so as to integrate improved monitoring tools and reduced management inputs for BMSB while investigating how a restructured IPM program can sustain natural enemy populations.

    Goals of study

    Recent research has identified insecticides that are effective against BMSB with most of the active ingredients having short residual activity, requiring up to a 4-fold increase in insecticide applications (Leskey et al., 2012, 2013). To combat the systems-level threat from BMSB, we propose to restructure management programs in apple based on previous results, using behaviorally-based management. This approach will employ “IPM-CPR” (Crop Perimeter Restructuring). The previous study conducted by Anne Neilson (NE SARE - ONE13-190) demonstrated a 75% reduction in insecticide use in peach with border-only applications compared to current grower practices. Expansion of IPM-CPR into apples will additionally mitigate issues with secondary pests arising from the overuse of pyrethroid insecticides. Two years of on-farm trials demonstrate that IPM-CPR is a good agricultural practice that saved growers approximately $12/acre compared to alternate row middle applications. No significant difference in BMSB abundance, catfacing damage, and no OFM injury in peach orchards were observed under IPM-CPR. Despite higher BMSB populations in 2013, results suggest that IPM-CPR provides sustainable pest control at levels equal to current management recommendations.

    Past work

    In previous studies conducted by Anne Neilson (NE SARE - ONE13-190), two years of on-farm trials demonstrate that IPM-CPR is a good agricultural practice that saved growers approximately $12/acre compared to alternate row middle or whole orchard applications. No significant difference in BMSB abundance, catfacing damage, or OFM injury in peach orchards under IPM-CPR were observed. Despite higher BMSB populations in 2013, results suggested that IPM-CPR provides sustainable pest control at levels equal to current management recommendations. To evaluate systems-level impacts, we will measure natural enemy services and evaluate monitoring methods. Preliminary data on sentinel BMSB egg masses showed increased predation in the interior of IPM-CPR orchards. Advances in the chemical ecology of BMSB allow us to evaluate pheromone-based monitoring methods compared to unreliable visual counts.

    Our objectives include: 1) Investigating effectiveness of managing BMSB and key fruit pests with border sprays, soft insecticides and in some orchards the use of mating disruption (IPM-CPR). 2) Investigating response of insect natural enemies and secondary pests under IPM-CPR. 3) Partnering with fruit and vegetable growers to demonstrate IPM-CPR and record state-wide changes in insecticide use practices. By working directly with two of the largest fruit and vegetable growers, we will demonstrate IPM-CPR in apples and peppers, and identify the impact on natural enemies through improved monitoring methods to facilitate adoption in the Northeast. The proposed research adheres to SARE goals by reducing pesticide inputs, exposure, and soil compaction.

    Our project’s aim is to investigate the effectiveness of a systems-level approach to manage BMSB and key fruit pests with border sprays, mating disruption, and ground cover management (IPM-CPR) as a good agricultural practice, and the impact on natural enemies. Border sprays are an IPM tactic previously used in other systems (Vincent et al. 1997). They will be a critical component of this project to increase treatment efficiency and reduce insecticide use by applying treatments to only approximately 25% of a 5-acre apple and pepper block.


    Three sites each with two apple blocks and two pepper fields will participate in the study for one year. At each site, an IPM-CPR treatment block and a grower standard block, each ca. 5 acres, each of the same variety (Jalapeno and Habanero pepper, Red Delicious–apple) will be sampled beginning mid-May (apple) and June (pepper), when BMSB colonizes NY, through harvest. Preference for adjacent blocks and wooded edge of apple will be used to look at movement between crops under IPM-CPR. The standard block will be maintained as full cover or alternate row middle insecticide applications for BMSB and other target pests on a 7-14 day schedule for BMSB and at DD timing for moth pests. IPM-CPR blocks will be maintained: under mating disruption (OFM/CM TT in apples, CBC America) or Bt / Entrust for corn borer at a rate of 200 ties/acre. Participating growers will supply the required hand labor and record the time needed for mating disruption dispenser placement. Additional applications of reduced-risk insecticides for moth pests will be applied if needed. BMSB populations will be managed by treating only the perimeter row/trees and the first full row. Within the orchard, row middles will be managed with the application of an herbicide to control broad-leaf weeds, such as clover and other legumes, that may harbor populations of tarnished plant bugs (Lygus spp.) and native catfacing insects (Atanassov et al., 2002). In all blocks two monitoring traps will be placed on the interior of each orchard block to monitor moth populations. Early season pest management for plum curculio and green peach aphid will be applied as needed according to the 2016 Cornell Tree Fruit Production Guide. Management for BMSB will begin when traps indicate dispersal into apple. BMSB will be monitored weekly throughout the growing season. At harvest, 50 fruit from each replicate sample per block (450 fruit/block) will be assessed for all insect damage, including BMSB. All fruit will be peeled to quantify the severity of BMSB injury per fruit. Effective insecticides for BMSB management are predominately the pyrethroid class. This approach increases applicator and worker exposure, may have negative environmental impacts due to intense pyrethroid use, is harmful to the orchard agroecosystem. The broad-spectrum action of pyrethroids has been detrimental to beneficial insects and outbreaks of secondary pests such as wooly apply aphid, mites, and San Jose scale has been widely reported. Our objectives include investigating the response of insect natural enemies and secondary pests under IPM-CPR program. The influence of management programs on natural enemies will be monitored 4 times during season with yellow sticky cards placed within the tree canopy along the transect samples (2 perimeter, 2 interior, and 1 middle). After one week the sticky cards will be collected and assessed for the prevalence of insect natural enemies. We will also demonstrate predation and parasitization of BMSB with sentinel egg masses. Sentinel eggs will be deployed at trees adjacent to sticky cards during the same time period but collected after 2-3 days. One BMSB egg mass (28 eggs/mass) per tree will be used (Atanassov et al., 2003). After collection, egg masses will be kept under laboratory conditions and predation or parasitism will be quantified. Secondary pests, including mites and scales, will be monitored based on pest phenology within peach and apple blocks. Predatory and pest mites will be sampled with a mite brush from 25 leaves/tree collected along the transects. Scales will be monitored through visual observations. The target audience is the New York commercial apple and vegetable industry. Pest and natural enemy abundance data and clean fruit at harvest will be analyzed with ANOVA to demonstrate effectiveness of the IPM-CPR program. Pesticide records will be obtained from the grower collaborators, and analyzed with t-tests for the number of applications, amount of active ingredient used, and associated costs.

    Project timetable

    April 2016: Establish and mark plots and provide management plans to growers. Hire hourly laborers. May – Sept 2016: Weekly monitoring and data collection at farms. Interpret field data and consult with growers on management recommendations. June 2016: Twilight meeting at cooperating grower sites to demonstrate IPM-CPR tactics. June - August, 2016: Place sticky cards and collect to monitor beneficial insects. June - Sept, 2016: Develop newsletter articles for commercial growers that include ongoing results and management in demonstration plots. October, 2016: Meet with growers and collect pesticide use records. October, 2016: Analyze pest, beneficial insect, and pesticide use data. December 2016 – March 2015: Present results at research and grower meetings. Expand the NY Tree Fruit Production Guide to include results and project recommendations.

    Outreach plan

    We plan to conduct a number of extension activities to disseminate research results from this project that demonstrates the IPM-CPR program a variety of audiences contending with increasing pressure from the invasive BMSB in sustainable fruit and vegetable production. The primary target audience is the NY commercial tree fruit industry, the organic vegetable growers as well as fruit growers in other Northeastern states where BMSB is a growing problem. Field days, extension meetings, blog site submissions (http://blogs.cornell.edu/jentsch/) and extension publications will focus on the eastern production community. Research/extension meetings will be addressed at the eastern branch Entomological Society of America Meeting. The ENY Horticultural Team conducts yearly scouting and collect weekly data, which is interpreted by researchers and used in newsletter recommendations. This established communication system permits us to seamlessly integrate our IPM-CPR tactics into current practices.

    PI Bio

    Peter Jentsch presently holds a Masters degree in entomology, having worked as a technician, research support specialist, and presently as extension associate in the department of entomology at Cornell University, NYSAES, Geneva, NY. He has conducted fruit tree research and experimental efficacy trials on pear and apple, grape, sweet corn and onion at Cornell's Hudson Valley Research Laboratory over the past 26 years under Dr. Rick Weires and Dr. Richard Straub. He has presided as HVRL entomologist since 2006 and is presently the Hudson Valley Research Laboratory superintendent since 2013.

    Project participating farmers

    Jeff Crist, owner of Crist Brothers Orchards, owns 4 tree fruit farms in Orange and Ulster Counties of NY. He is one of the largest growers in the Hudson Valley, a third generation farmer growing apples in the region with three of his children assisting in the business. His recent purchase of a 100 acre commercial orchard provides over 600 acres of tree fruit under his management. Hepworth Farms, established 1818, is a seventh-generation family farm in Milton, New York, located in the Hudson Valley approximately 75 miles north of New York City. After graduating from Cornell University in 1982, Amy Hepworth assumed leadership and began the process of dechemicalization, transitioning from standard farming practices to a "whole systems approach." Today, Hepworth Farms has 250 acres of NOFA-certified production land yielding more than 400 varieties of organic vegetables—specializing in tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, cukes and many varieties of greens. The farm is owned and operated by Amy Hepworth, her twin sister Gail, along with Gerry Greco. Dan Donahue is a Sr. Extension Educator covering commercial tree fruit production. He is a member of the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCH) serving 17 counties in Eastern New York. Anne Nielsen is a Assistant Extension Specialist, Department of Entomology, Rutgers University at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center.Her research focus is on the development and refinement of phenological models for pests of tree fruits and small fruits. She conducts basic research with information on the physiology and behavior of insects into management programs that are both economically and environmentally sustainable. Much of this research is focused on invasive species, particularly Halyomorpha halys, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Her laboratory also evaluates monitoring programs, biological control, and the integration of management tactics to provide a systems-level approach to pest management.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.