Florida is under constant threat of invasion – by non-native insects and other arthropods. To prepare for some worst-case scenarios, there’s a quarantine facility on the UF campus where scientists raise feared species, in part to study the possible effects these bugs might have on Florida crops.
Among the species under quarantine: the brown marmorated stink bug, pictured above.
This invasive pest was reported in Pennsylvania in 2001 and has spread south to the Carolinas; Georgia and Florida seem likely destinations. It feeds on more than 300 host plants.
UF entomologist Amanda Hodges is developing crop damage estimates now – by raising the bug in quarantine. Inside the quarantine facility, Hodges lets the pest sample some of Florida’s most important crops, then gathers data on plants the stink bug likes best.
So far, it appears that Florida’s strawberries, blueberries, citrus and other fruit crops may be at risk if the brown marmorated stink bug ever becomes established here. Ornamentals would be under threat as well.
Would you like to see more material on invasive pest threats that may affect Florida? Maybe updates on a particular bug, or the bugs that seem to be the most imminent threats? Let us know!