Stink Bug Update: EPA approves insecticides on emergency basis

The brown marmorated stink bug invasion made page one of today’s Washington Post, where the headline proclaims: “With a stink bug boom, harvests could go bust: Entomologists weight ways to squash pest’s propagation, migration.”

The story by Darryl Fears tells of the devastation the stink bugs are doing to crops, the threat they pose as they expand across the nation, and research the USDA is conducting in Delaware on a natural predator, a minute Asian wasp that the Post describes as “not much bigger than the period at the end of a sentence.”

Those things aren’t news to those who’ve been reading Stink Bug Updates here, but buried deep in the Post series is some genuine news: “The EPA has approved two insecticides, including dinotefuran, sold under the names Venom and Scorpion, for emergency use. The poison is effective, farmers said, but has a major downside.” The downside, of course, is that the insecticide kills beneficial insects too, leaving growers dependent on expensive chemicals.

The Post article, however, did not mention several points of the EPA announcement: (1) The approval of dinotefuran covers only the states of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. (2) The approval is for use on stone and pome fruits, such as peaches, plums, cherries, apples, and pears. (3) The EPA earlier had approved dinotefuran for use on a variety of crops, such as leafy vegetables, grapes, and potatoes.

The biggest unreported news, I think, is that when the EPA approved dinotefuran, it also approved an insecticide that organic farmers may use, a product that “contains azadirachtin and pyrethrins, which are derived from botanical ingredients.” The EPA announcement says the organic insecticide may be used in “organic production systems” and is “now approved for use on many crops where stink bug management is needed.”

The bottom line is that fruit growers in the mid-Atlantic states now have approved insecticides to combat stink bugs this growing season. If you’re buying “regular” tree fruits, they probably were sprayed with a chemical insecticide, and if you’re buying “organic” fruits or vegetables, they may have been sprayed with a “botanical” insecticide.

To read the EPA announcement, CLICK HERE.

To read the Washington Post article, CLICK HERE.

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