CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- A northern species of stink bugs that can harm crops has made its first Texas appearance, but there isn't an immediate threat to agriculture, experts said.
The brown marmorated stink bug, a native of Asia, is typically found up and down the East Coast, but in late October a local pest control company received a phone call about an RV overloaded with bugs.
Entomologist John Rourke Jr. examined the RV and identified the insects as the much-maligned stink bug.
"Before I walked in the RV, they were around the door, they were in cracks and crevices, a bathroom cabinet and the glove compartment," Rourke said.
He said the residents told him they had just returned from a road trip to Pennsylvania when they noticed the overflowing bugs.
"There were at least three or four dozen killed, so we can only assume that many escaped," Rourke said.
He said even if the insects do find a home in the Coastal Bend of Texas, they pose no threat to people except as a nuisance.
Roy D. Parker, professor and entomologist at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Corpus Christi, said the insects, which also are referred to as the interstate bug, are showing up all over the country by hitching a ride on motor homes and cars.
"They tend to gather up and find a protected place over winter," Parker said.
The insects seek shelter in great numbers in homes and other structures. And while they do not bite or sting, they do emit a foul odor when disturbed or crushed.
While it is unclear if or when the marmorated stink bugs will establish a home in the Coastal Bend, farmers said they do not want another insect in their crops.
"If they come in this area and adapt to our weather pattern, it threatens our crops," said Bobby Nedbalek, a cotton and grain sorghum farmer in San Patricio County.
He said he did not know of the recent sighting of the stink bug but hopes they are trapped and controlled.
Parker said the brown marmorated stink bugs primarily attack sweet corn, tomato, cranberry and soy bean crops, but studies have shown that they also will feed on cotton.
"We don't want to spray more than we have to because it's very expensive," Nedbalek said, "and we don't want to suffer any crop damage because that takes money out of our expenses and the economy."
But regardless, "they are not welcome in Texas," he said.
-- The brown marmorated stink bug has a shield-shaped body like all other stink bugs.
-- They are a mottled brown to gray color.
-- The adults are approximately 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch long.
-- The next-to-last antennal segments have white bands.
-- The abdominal segments protrude from beneath the wings and are alternatively banded with black and white
Source: John D Rourk Jr., Associate Certified Entomologist/Operations Manager, Certified Termite and Pest Control, Corpus Christi.