PENTICTON - The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture is asking Okanagan residents to be on the lookout for the latest non-native species to enter the B.C., including the South Okanagan, as it seeks winter refuge inside buildings this winter.
The ministry has issued an appeal for residents of Penticton, the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland to be on the lookout for the brown marmorated stink bug as it attempts to find a place to bed down for the winter.
The stink bug has the potential to cause some serious damage to the valley’s fruit industry, based on losses seen in the United States, according to a B.C. government media release.
The bug feeds on more than 100 different plant species including fruit, berries, grapes, vegetables and ornamental plants, resulting in damage in the United States to tens of millions of dollars worth of fruit crops alone.
Ministry of Agriculture entomologist Susanna Acheampong says the ministry has been on the lookout for the stink bug since 2010, and has since increased its search for the insect following the first sightings of the pest in B.C. this year.
The brown marmorated stink bug, first identified in North America in Pennsylvania in 2001, is a native of Asia. It travels easily by hitching a ride in shipping containers, wood, wood packing material, cargo and vehicles.
“The only place we’ve found it in the Okanagan is along the river channel in Penticton,” Acheampong says, adding only a handful were found.
“Normally, if you find a few, there will be more there,” she says.
Treatment methods are still being defined, Acheampong says, noting land access has to be negotiated before a program can be carried out in Penticton, as the bugs were found on the Penticton Indian Band.
A form or pheromone treatment is being considered.
“It can be complicated looking for them. That’s why we are asking people to look out for them,” she says, adding they can winter in the province quite well, regardless of whether they find a building to get inside.
People can confuse the bug with the native western conifer stink bug, which are slender with ‘leaflike’ back legs and the rough stink bug, which has rough skin and spines on the shoulders.
The brown marmorated stink bug has white bands on the antennae and smooth shoulders,” Acheampong says.
She has received many emails from residents who are confusing the different stink bugs.
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