Stink bugs invade mid-Atlantic states as shutdown furloughs top stink bug researcher

The government shutdown has furloughed the country's top stink bug researcher, just when the smelly insects are heading into homes for shelter from the fall cold.
Posted By KATE STANTON,  |  Oct. 3, 2013 at 8:12 PM
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If you live in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia or any other mid-Atlantic states, chances are you've noticed the growing numbers of brown marmorated stink bugs invading your home each year.

Originally from Asia, the smelly, persistent house invaders were first spotted in Pennsylvania in 1998, but have since become the USDA's most "invasive insect of interest." Though their numbers are greatest in mid-Atlantic states, they've been spotted as far as California.

Scientists expect stink bug populations to reach record heights this year, but you might notice more of the beetles when cool fall weather prompts them to seek shelter in warm homes.

But as a Patch reporter in College Park, Md., discovered, the government shutdown has halted work on a 50-person team of researchers looking for ways to manage the stink bug's booming presence.

In an attempt to garner more information about the invasive creatures, U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers have asked mid-Atlantic residents to count the stink bugs they find in their homes between September 15 and October 15. That work has now stopped.

The study's website is offline "due to the lapse in federal government funding," while emails to Tracy Leskey, the group's top entomologist, read: "I am on furlough without access to email."

Meanwhile, billions of stink bugs are entering people's homes and damaging crops.

"I have not in my career faced this kind of challenge," a Virginia Tech entomologist told Patch. "The same is likely true for many of my colleagues. The scale and scope of this is significant in its impact."

"I'm like a wild woman swatting them," one frustrated Pennsylvania woman told Lancaster Online.

“It’s not uncommon to see 10, 20, 30 of them on a window screen,” an Ohio exterminator told the Dayton Daily News. ”The sun heats up the house and the flying insect will gravitate to the heat, away from the cold.”

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