Development and implementation of a trap cropping system to suppress stink bugs in the southern Coastal Plain

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2006: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Russell Mizell, III
NFREC-Quincy, University of Florida

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: millet, rye, sorghum (milo), soybeans, sunflower
  • Fruits: peaches


  • Crop Production: catch crops, cover crops, intercropping, multiple cropping, application rate management, relay cropping, strip tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Pest Management: biological control, integrated pest management, prevention, trap crops, traps
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture


    A trap cropping system was developed to manage the stink and leaffooted bug pests in the coastal plain and perhaps other areas. The biologically-based strategy can be customized for any planting season from spring to fall and is farmer-philosophy and farm-scale neutral. Plantings are established using standard cultural practices. A mixture of species is required to ensure continuous optimum food availability in the trap crop to out compete the cash crop for stink bug feeding. Triticale, sorghum, millet, buckwheat, and sunflower are the main species recommended. Small-acreage growers may wish to plant trap crops in large containers for portability.


    Stink bugs are an overarching pest management issue in all types of agriculture in the Southeast. Stink bugs, primarily the brown stink bug, Euschistus servus (Say), the dusky stink bug, E. tristigmus (Say), the green stink bug, Acrosternum hilare (Say) and the southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula (L.) and the leaffooted bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus (L.) are direct primary pests of vegetable, fruit, seed and grain crops in the Southeast regardless of the production system (Schaefer and Panizzi 2000). McPherson and McPherson (2000) reported that 21 important commodities in the U.S. were damaged by stink bugs. In Georgia, during some years, stink bug damage in soybeans alone was estimated to cost producers over $13 mil in damage and control costs (Douce and McPherson 1991).
    Stink bugs are naturally tolerant of many pesticides; therefore, few efficacious insecticides are available to manage these difficult pests. Virtually no biologically-based strategies and tactics of practical use are recommended to suppress most stink bugs in small farm, organic or homeowner production. Stink bugs are also major pests in commercial agronomic, fruit and vegetable crops: beans, peas, okra, small grains, soybean, cotton, peach and pecan, etc. The boll weevil eradication program and the use of GMO cotton for lepidopteran pest suppression have greatly reduced the pesticide load in commercial cotton. As a result, stink bugs have recently become major pests in cotton. Based on the large acreage of cotton planted across the Southeast, the vagility of stinkbugs and the temporal and spatial population dynamics at the landscape level of these pests (Mizell et al. 2003, unpublished GIS data), it is logical to assume that losses from stink bugs will continue to increase in the susceptible crops.
    The primarily goal of this project was to refine and demonstrate a trap cropping system to manage the three major stink bug pests, E. servus, A. hilare, and N. viridula, as well as other minor stink bug species (in the genera Banasa, Thyanta) and the leaffooted bug (L. phyllopus) in vegetable and fruit production in the southern coastal plain. The biologically-based, integrated strategy was customized for the spring to fall planting seasons. Briefly, we used a series of preferred host plants that attract and concentrate the stink bugs and their natural enemies in the trap crop instead of the cash crop, enabling population suppression by mechanical removal or other means, and thereby reducing the damage in the cash crop.

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1. To refine and demonstrate a trap cropping system for stink bug management that is widely adaptable in the southern coastal plain.
    Objective 2. To establish an effective outreach program to deliver the information to clientele.

    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.