Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 11, 2012

Out of Odor: Offensive-Smelling Bugs Put U.S. Farmers on the Defensive

Pests Fly Among Crops, Nest in Homes; Scientists Battle Stinky 'Takeover'

Wall Street Journal

Brian Biggins's life stinks.

The Maryland organic farmer is suffering from an infestation of stink bugs—crop-consuming pests emitting the odor of cilantro mixed with burned rubber and dirty socks. They began destroying his fields of peppers and tomatoes in 2010. Now, they've invaded his Adamstown home, where Mr. Biggins crushes them by hand and has trained his English Shepherd, Coadee, to eat them.

Still, thousands scurry across the floor of his farm house.

"For the love of God, my wife is the one I feel for the worst," says Mr. Biggins. "This is the kind of thing that you don't sign up for."

Stink bugs, Mr. Biggins's brown marmorated nemesis, infiltrated the U.S. as cargo ship stowaways from Asia about 15 years ago and have proliferated in the past two years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the immigrants have spread to 36 states; trade groups say they were responsible for $37 million of damage to apple crops alone in 2010. ...

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