Stink bugs invade southern Michigan

Feb. 2, 2011 at 2:27 PM

DETROIT, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Growers in Michigan say they are facing a new threat: a bug native to Asia that defaces agricultural products, making marketing them as "fresh" difficult.

The state's Department of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of the brown marmorated stink bug in two southern counties, the first recorded appearance of the pest in Michigan, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.

Stink bugs are known for causing "cat-facing," a visible disfigurement of fruits and vegetables, making them a serious threat to the state's $71.3 billion agri-food industry, officials said.

"It can be a serious pest for a variety of fruits such as apples, peaches and mulberries," Jennifer Holton, a spokeswoman for the agriculture department, said. "It also impacts field crops like corn and soybeans."

The bugs do not pose a threat to human health, but can be a nuisance to homeowners as they work their way indoors in search of shelter during the winter months.

A nasty surprise awaits if they are accidentally stepped on or sucked into a vacuum cleaner, Holton said.

"They don't call them stink bugs for nothing."

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