Invasive stink bugs plaguing farmers in Deep South march north

(Photo: WKRN)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The Deep South’s nastiest soybean pest is marching north, and Mississippi and Arkansas are facing their worst invasion ever.

Two warm winters followed by this year’s warm spring have let invasive red-banded stinkbugs spread well beyond south Louisiana, where they’ve been prevalent since 2000.

University of Arkansas extension service entomologist Gus Lorenz says there are huge numbers.

Mississippi State University extension service entomologist Angus Catchot says farmers are finding red-banded stinkbugs close to the Tennessee line, though in smaller numbers that far north.

Experts say it’s much worse than 2009, the last time the insects were a big problem in Mississippi and Arkansas.

At the Louisiana State University AgCenter, entomologist Jeff Davis says the 2009 infestation didn’t continue into 2010 because a cold winter and spring killed many of the bugs, which are from South America.