During my post-doc position at the USDA-ARS in Kearneysville, I studied alternative approaches to controlling the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) that help reduce reliance on insecticides. Since the introduction of this invasive insect, insecticide use by growers has increased by 4-fold, which is unsustainable in the long-term. The main tactic I investigated for implementation in growers’ orchards is using attract-and-kill to manage BMSB. This involves deploying aggregation pheromone that is highly attractive to BMSB, helping to lure them to a spatially confined site, and then only treating that attract-and-kill site regularly with insecticides instead of the whole orchard.
In support of this objective, I investigated the retention capacity of various crops, including apple and peach, using tagged BMSB individuals and harmonic radar in the field. In addition, I used field baiting experiments to understand the active area of aggregation around a pheromone source to see if this area was small enough to avoid widespread damage in growers’ orchards. In addition, I investigated the sublethal impacts of insecticide exposure on the flight capacity and horizontal movement of BMSB in the lab. Finally, I did work investigating the use of trap crops for retaining BMSB in organic vegetable plantings.