The Polar Vortex may be good for something after all: It may have killed off the stink bugs, researchers say.
Researchers at Virginia Tech say this year’s extreme cold has led to a 95 percent mortality rate for the invasive bug, National Geographic reported, compared with a typical winter mortality rate of 20 to 25 percent.
The brown marmorated stink bug, which is not native to North America, was first found in Allentown in 1998, researchers at Penn State said. Because it lacks a natural predator here, it has spread rapidly.
Penn State researchers have found the bug in 37 Pennsylvania counties, including Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Franklin, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Snyder, Washington, Westmoreland and York. However, the PSU scientists say it’s likely that the pest is everywhere in our state.
Additionally, the bug is now present in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin, Penn State says.
The stink bugs have had a devastating effect on the state’s agricultural industry.
“This insect is becoming an important agricultural pest in Pennsylvania. In 2010, it produced severe losses in some apple and peach orchards by damaging peaches and apples. It also has been found feeding on blackberry, sweet corn, field corn and soybeans,” the Penn State Department of Entomology shared. “In neighboring states it has been observed damaging tomatoes, lima beans and green peppers.”
Though not harmful to humans, they make a loud noise when flying and smell terrible — hence “stink bug” — when squashed.