Global warming could see invasive crop-destroying stink bugs travel further in the US – Interesting Engineering
A relatively new problem
Brown marmorated stink bugs weren’t always an American problem. They originated from eastern Asia and were first discovered in Pennsylvania about 20 years ago.
Today, they’ve spread across the country, but prefer to reside in the mid-Atlantic, parts of the Midwest and the west coast.
Researchers of the new study sought to evaluate just how far these pests might spread as climate change continues to heat up the weather in the U.S. They used factors such as temperatures and rainfall rates in a model simulation that aimed to predict which parts of the country might become more or less attractive for stink bugs by the year 2080.
Alarmingly, they found that the number of suitable habitats for these pesky insects could increase by 70 percent. The mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes area and western valley regions, like around Sacramento, California will be the most affected, the model showed.
This will particularly affect agriculture in those regions.
“Every system will change with climate change, so the fact that you can grow garbanzo beans, lentils or wheat without these pests now, doesn’t mean that you will not have them in a few years,” said study lead author Javier Gutierrez Illan, a Washington State University entomologist. “There are mitigating things that we can do, but it is wise to prepare for change.”
The bugs need two things to thrive: warm weather and water. So if an area is too cold or too dry, it will not see much of these notorious insects. Still, so far, stinky bugs have managed to thrive.