Good News: Invasive Chinese Stink Bugs Repelled by Common Weed Extract


Molecular diagram of a chemical extracted from fungal endophyte associated with the common Foxtail weed. It repels Chinese Stink Bugs. Image: ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

If you're living in one of the US states which has experienced the latest Chinese invaders--brown marmorated stink bugs (aka the Chinese stink bug)--the importance of the discovery by Japanese scientists of a common weed extract which repels them requires no further explanation. See the publication 3-(4-Methylfuran-3-yl)propan-1-ol: A White-Spotted Stinkbug (Eysarcoris ventralis) Repellent Produced by an Endophyte Isolated from Green Foxtail, in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry for details of the discovery.

If you have not been visited by Chinese stink bugs yet, get ready, because they're coming to a window sill or light shade near you. And they stink, literally and figuratively.
Brown marmorated stink bug. Image:Wikipedia.

Stink bugs try to get into buildings in large numbers. They accumulate around door jambs, window sills, and candelabras. They become very slow with the cool of the evening, seeking out anyone sitting under a reading light. A family member becomes designated grabber and remover--which typically means consuming some tissue paper 'cause you don't want to touch them.

Chinese stink bugs do not bite people; but they have the look and smell of a tiny knight in stinky armor. Women and children especially hate them. I suspect that has to do with having a stronger olfactory ability than I do at my age. Call me whatever name you wish for stating my opinion on this--it won't change.

The reason I am thrilled about this discovery is that, after having gotten rid of a massive infestation of Japanese Beetles by the application of milky spore disease three years ago, Chinese Stinkers have replaced them in my garden. They've sucked the vital juices out of every single pole bean leaf. Have a look at the destruction of this year's "crop," below.


Pole bean plants on metal hoop towers. Note the majority of bean plant leaves devastated by stink bug sucking. Image: John Laumer

I know the free traders among you are going to lecture me about being xenophobic. However, my pole bean production--which I had counted on for many years for canning purposes- was zero this year. Their stink bugs took part of my food independence away. But I'm gonna get me some of that 3-(4-Methylfuran-3-yl)propan-1-ol as soon as it becomes available and I'm counting that on helping toward a more balanced outlook.

Note: I had moderate success last year in riding the house of the Chinese stinkers by applying diatomacious earth to the garden and around the outside of doors and windows, using a hand cranked duster. This process was messy and leaves an unappealing white coating. Can't reach the second floor either. Not practical for most folks.

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Eating Aliens: Are Invasive Species Ethical Food?

Tags: China | Insects | Japan | United States