Illinois farmers fear stink bugs will attack crops - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois farmers fear stink bugs will attack crops

(KFVS) - The brown marmorated stink bug, known to eat peaches and apples, has some Illinois farmers on edge.

The bug is native to Asia and made its way to North America with in the past 20-years, according to research by Penn State University.

Since then, it's been found in 19 states including multiple Northern counties in Illinois.

Southern Illinois fruit farmer and owner of Rendleman's Orchards, Ren Sirles, said he's trying to learn as much about the critters as he can before they make their way to the region.

“They'll about eat anything," Sirles said. “It is just a matter of time before it happens, we know that."

Sirles' family has farmed peaches and apples for more than a hundred years. He said bugs like that could likely pose a problem with the fruit industry.

"We're back to trying to learn as much as we can about them before they become a huge problem here,” Sirles said.

Sirles said any bug that requires farmers to spray additional pesticide or destroys crops could likely cause fruit prices to go up at the groceries.

Sirles said there's been research into releasing an Asian wasp, a known predator of the stink bug, into the states but its unclear what effects that could have on our current ecosystem

“They're an invasive pest. That means there's no natural predator [here]," Sirles said. "That means they can just multiply without really any worry.”

“The number one rule is do no harm so therefore if they bring in this wasp, will it hurt something else," Sirles said.  "Or will it just work on these bugs, the stink bugs, to help us. And you know, that takes a lot of research and time.”

The bugs live in weeds, soybeans and forests. So it's difficult for farmers to contain the bugs from spreading to their farm, Sirles said.

The stink bug has a very pungent smell, Sirles said. These bugs also will hide and even hibernate in homes under siding, windowsill and in the rafters of your home.

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