By Craig Stephani | October 19th, 2022
The Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys; BMSB) has been making headlines across the province this October! ISCBC has fielded 1076 reports from the public in just a few days – setting a new reporting record for our organization. And the media was buzzing too! In just four days, we were contacted by every major media outlet in BC, curious and concerned about the bug that seems to be everywhere, and in noticeable numbers! What’s the big buzz anyway?
These bugs, native to Asia, were first discovered in BC in 2015. Since then, BMSB have established themselves in the Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver, Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley. And this year, BC residents have really taken notice of them!
So, why are we seeing so many reports for them right now? “The fall weather and shorter daylight hours signals them to look for cool, dry places to overwinter. This makes homes ideal places for them to be dormant and later emerge once spring arrives,” said Dr. Nick Wong, ISCBC’s manager of Science and Research.
Although the data is still being compiled, Dr. Wong had some insight into why we might be seeing more reports. “Since we’ve had nice warm weather into October in parts of the province, we’re likely seeing a surplus of stink bugs,” he said.
These bugs can come together in large numbers, such that an individual home may host hundreds, or even thousands of bugs. That is why it is important to prevent BMSB from entering your home by sealing off any entry points.
Okay, so we are seeing a lot of them but what is the concern? “BMSB are harmless to humans,” said Dr. Wong, “however, they have the potential to cause damage to several crops, including tree fruits, nuts, vegetables and row crops.”
This damage causes bruises and blemishes on unripe fruits which can lead them to become infected, making fruits unappealing to eat. They also affect vineyards where even a few of the bugs can taint a batch of wine if they get caught in the crushing. Preventing their further spread into agricultural areas is critical.
You can help stop the spread by practicing the simple steps of PlayCleanGo. Making a difference is easy! Since these bugs are known to hitchhike long distances on vehicles, simply check your vehicle for any BMSB, and other invasive species, before travelling to another region. You can differentiate these shield-shaped bugs from native look-alikes by the distinct white bands on their antennae.
If you spot BMSB outside of urban areas in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, you can help by filling out the reporting form found on our website or the BC government’s online form. But because they’re already well established in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, unless you find one on a farm in these regions, there’s no need for further reporting.
If you’d like to learn even more about BMSB, check out our factsheet!
Craig is an Outreach Lead at ISCBC. He is passionate about sharing his excitement for nature with others. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, camping and exploring wild areas near and far. You can reach Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org