Are these baby lady bugs?

Asked July 14, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT

We found these little bugs on our tomatoes this morning. Would you tell us what they are please? Thank you!

Marion County Oregon insects insect management

1 Response

Thank you for including an image with your inquiry. No, these are not lady bugs. They are the first nymphal stage of the brown marmorated stink bug (aka BMSB), an invasive species that arrived in the Willamette Valley in 2004. The hope is that it won’t become the serious pest it is in the eastern US where it damages more than 400 hosts. This pest alert was released in 2010: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/PLANT/docs/pdf/ippm_bmsb_alert2010.pdf

Please dispatch these, and any others you find, as soon as you see them. This group of new hatchlings will disperse in a day or so now, so please attend to them now. The easiest thing to do is to flick them into soapy water.

Current status and recommendations for BMSB:

- Home gardeners should eradicate eggs, nymphs (youngsters), and adults on sight. (See the images of the various life stages in the above pest alert.) Cultural methods are suggested for home gardeners: crush and/or flick into soapy water. Our official resource for insect pest management states “This pest is not currently of commercial concern. It has been found in in the Northern Willamette Valley but has not caused damage. It may pose a significant risk to fruit if populations increase. … Gardeners and growers with small plots may be able to exclude BMSB with fine netting, but this is not feasible for larger farms.”

- BMSB are nuisance insects when they enter structures during the fall and winter. They don’t feed or breed indoors. The preferred remedy is to physically remove them, perhaps with a wet-dry shop vac. Sprays are to be avoided indoors for human safety, also that they don’t kill the insects because they are in a dormant phase. To prevent BMSB from entering homes, seal all the openings with caulking, weather stripping, and the like.

- So far, the search for an effective trap has failed.

- Research is underway for beneficial insects which will limit BMSB. None have been released as yet. Projects such as this typically require years to finalize.

The home page for research in Oregon is at http://horticulture.oregonstate.edu/group/brown-marmorated-stink-bug-oregon. Use the links under the heading of “Local Resources/Reporting for Oregon” at the bottom of that page for ID information and to report your findings. Be certain to include where you live.