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In 2013, stink bugs not as invasive in Maryland

URBANA — About 130 farmers welcomed the prediction that the brown mamorated stink bug population will not be as invasive this year as it was in 2011.

New generations of stink bug colonies being monitored may not be as fertile as previous generations, Travis Larmore told the farmers attending Wednesday’s 2013 Frederick/ Montgomery/Howard Winter Agronomy Meeting at the Urbana Fire Hall.

Their numbers have dropped, and a milder winter may have decreased their life span, Larmore said. He is a graduate research assistant at the University of Maryland College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, and he is studying to be a scientist. Larmore discussed integrated pest management strategies at the meeting.

“We’ve had two very fertile generations and one that is not as fertile, but you can expect to see more outbreaks like we had in 2011,” Larmore said.

Native brown mamorated stink bug predators such as spiders, big eye bugs and the predatory insect orius, are attacking the pests but they can’t keep up because stink bugs’ reproduction rates are a lot higher, Larmore said, adding, research is ongoing for parasitism effectiveness.

“We’re trying to find out if our native parasotoid can impact the BMSB, and there is the fear of bringing in another exotic species that could damage our native population of stink bugs,” Larmore said.

Pheromone traps have proven more effective at capturing the brown mamorated stink bugs than traps using light, and scientists are working on timing and placement of the traps, Larmore said. However, a concern is that the traps may snare nontarget species, he said.

The stink bug update was good information with regard to the natural predators and the effect they may be having, said Denny Remsburg, manager of the Catoctin/Frederick Soil Conservation Districts.

Drought conditions increasing farmers’ stresses

Insects, diseases and weeds are constant stressors for the farmer, but tools are available to deal with them. But weather-related events — too much heat, cold or precipitation at the wrong time — are probably the biggest stressors for farmers, University of Maryland Extension Crop Production Specialist Robert Kratochvil said.

“We’ve seen an increase in drought frequency over the last 20 years,” Kratochvil said.

Aug. 7 was the worst day of the drought last year across the country, Kratochvil said, but the worst day for this region was earlier in the summer. For a good portion of the state, from June to July, it got hot and dry and that took a toll on plants.–

But compared to the same time last year, conditions are looking better this year, the crop specialist said.

“It’s amazing how close communities can be, yet have different amounts of rainfall,” Kratochvil, adding, temperatures are two to three degrees warmer in the 21st century.

Kratochvil offered a number of tips to cope with stresses on the farm. They include: rotate your crops, choose hybrids with a range of maturity levels, select hybrids with good performance over a number of environments, match the right fertilizer products with the soil properties and crop needs, place nutrients where crops can get them, and apply the right amount of fertilizer.

Remsburg said he is amazed at what is available to farmers now versus what was available even 10 years ago.

“The one thing that I think farmers should have taken away from those presentations was that we need to change products to ensure effective control of weed species and prevent resistant strains from becoming more prevalent and causing new problems,” Remsburg said. “Dr. Kratchovil’s observations and recommendations on seeding rates related to yields over the full spectrum of weather conditions was good information and something to consider.”

The high point for University of Maryland Extension Principal Agent Emeritus Terry E. Poole was watching how intently the large audience of farmers listened to the speakers and that they stayed until the end of the program, he said.