KENT COUNTY, Mich. (WOOD) — Recent weather conditions are being blamed for an influx in an invasive pest now appearing in West Michigan orchards and vineyards.
Storm Team 8 Chief Meteorologist Bill Steffen says a combination of recent warm weather and relatively mild temperatures last winter is leading to an uptick in brown marmorated stink bugs.
The insect is an invasive species originating from Asia. Brown marmorated stink bugs fare best during warm summers with ample rain.
The bug feeds on plants and have damaged orchards and agricultural fields on the East Coast.Michigan State University researchers say the number of stink bugs in West Michigan are low enough that farmers and growers are not using insecticide against them at this time; however, they expect the bug to become more of a pest within the next two to three years.
This year, the MSU Extension reports a majority of the stink bugs they’ve caught have been in apple and peach orchards in Berrien and Van Buren counties, as well as the Fruit Ridge area of Kent and Ottawa counties.
MSU researchers say they’ve also trapped them in a number of Berrien County vineyards and a cherry orchard in Van Buren County. Allegan, Ionia and Kalamazoo counties are being monitored for brown marmorated stink bugs as well.
Homeowners may also see more of the insect this year. Studies show the invasive species slightly favors light-colored homes when looking for a place to hibernate.
The upside: brown marmorated stink bugs should soon die out as the weather turns colder. Bill says this winter will likely be colder than last year, so there should be fewer six-legged survivors.