Researchers at Virginia Tech find new ways to fight stink bugs

Farmers hope to cut costs fighting stink bugs

BLACKSBURG, Va. – In Virginia, several crops have been under attack by the stink bug for more than a decade.

They are an invasive species, especially for farmers such as Mark Woods of Woods Farms.

“Stink bugs are a real pain because they'll go to the orchard and eat. Then they’ll go to the bushes at night,” Woods said.

Dorothea Tholl, researcher of biological sciences at Virginia Tech has good news for Woods and the many farmers trying to get rid of stink bugs.

“Our research has gained us a better understanding how stink bugs can make pheromones. Those are compounds that these insects use to attract mates,” Tholl said.

Tholl believes this discovery can be used to create environmentally friendly alternatives in the form of a plant.

“The farmer would acquire these plants and they would be planting them near the crop field. So the plant would attract the pest, lure it away from the crop field. Then it could be removed or killed,” Tholl said.

Tholl said this could save farmers millions of dollars.

“It cuts your cost down. It cuts your cost on spray. It cuts your cost on general labor,” Woods said.

Tholl is excited about developing new pest-management techniques, but said the research still has a ways to go.

“It will take a few more years down the road that these plants can actually be tested,” Tholl said.

In the meantime, Woods and other farmers will continue to battle the bugs.