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Entomologists in New York State developed a clever way of keeping an eye out for inroads by the brown marmorated stinkbug. It’s been found across the state. So far, however, numbers have stayed small, and, as far as is known, no fruit growers have needed to spray to suppress it.

“We have not seen populations that would warrant control measures so far,” Peter Jentsch, an extension entomologist at the Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland, New York, told growers late in last fall’s harvest season.

After fruit growers in the Mid-Atlantic states just south of New York saw extensive damage in 2010, Jentsch and Mike Fargione, his Hudson Valley Lab colleague, developed a cooperative program with Cornell University’s Master Gardener Program. The idea was to enlist the aid of homeowners to watch for the stinkbugs and then report their finds.

This statewide monitoring program was launched in the fall of 2010 and the winter following. Articles in newspapers focused on this “most wanted” stinkbug, and information began to appear on Facebook and other social media.

People who found what they thought was a brown marmorated stinkbug filled out a form with details of the finding and mailed it, along with the bug, to the ­Hudson Valley Laboratory.

“For the survey thus far, we’ve received over 500 insect specimens from 235 locations in 35 counties throughout the state,” Jentsch said in a presentation during the Empire State Fruit and Vegetable Expo in January.

Starting last fall, the researchers added a new twist. The public was asked to submit digital images using phones equipped with cameras and GPS capability, so the exact latitude and longitude of the finding was recorded, along with a picture of the bug.

That effort generated 126 responses, and 71 percent of the bugs were confirmed as brown marmorated stinkbug, Jentsch said. The data was used to create a map showing the distribution of the bug in New York State. That map is online at http://hudsonvfr.cce.cornell.edu/bmsb1.html.

The map shows the stinkbug is on Long Island, in the Hudson River Valley from New York City to midstate, in the grape growing area around the Finger Lakes, in the apple-growing area along Lake Ontario, and in the stone fruit region near Lake Erie.

“The highest concentrations of BMSB on commodity have been observed on green and red bell pepper in Marlboro, New York,” Jentsch said. “Although a small number of BMSB have been observed on ag commodities, to date we have only observed a single monitoring site of BMSB field populations of an agricultural commodity that would warrant pest management control measures, in organic pepper, Marlboro, New York,” he said. Marlboro is in the Hudson River Valley north of New York City.

When spring comes, Cornell researchers and extension staff plan additional monitoring of the insect using a more attractive pheromone blend, Jentsch said. “Efforts to track the movement of the BMSB from the urban environment into the landscape will include monitoring of nonagricultural host plants that border the farm landscape.” These include maple and ash trees and an invasive tree from Asia called Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). “We intend to make every effort to alert producers in the state of the presence of this pest in agricultural crops,” Jentsch said.