THURMONT, Md. - They are small, maybe the size of your fingernail, but they could cause huge economic damage.
We’re talking stink bugs. Not the one’s that have been in our area all along, but a new invader.
It eats just about every crop. And in some parts of Western Maryland, they’ve caused massive damage.
They may not look like much, but they’re tough.
"Little tanks. Little armored tanks. I call them a lot of other names I can’t put on camera," says Bob Black, owner ofCatoctin Mountain Orchard in Thurmont, Maryland.
The brown marmorated stink bug is enemy number one - not just at Bob Black’s orchard, but for the University of Maryland Extension and the U.S.D.A. They have all come together to try to help.
At Black’s orchard, the stink bug has cost him 20 percent of his apple crop this year and for some farmers in other parts of Maryland it’s much worse.
"A big apple crop this year, so with 20 percent out of that we have 80 percent to sell of great qualilty apples, so we’re in good shape. We don’t want that to go to 30 percent damage next year," says Black.
Native to Asia, this insect with the striped antenna appeared in the U.S. in the mid 1990s.
Tracy Leskey of the U.S.D.A. made the first detection in Maryland in 2003. Since they are non-native, this type of stink bughas no natural predators. They feast on lots of fruits and vegetables grown in our area.
They don’t burrow through like a worm. Instead they suck the juice. It’s sort of like drinking through a straw. They leave behind dry, brown spots on the fruit.