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ATHENS: Brace for the next stink bug invasion -- it could be worse | News

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ATHENS: Brace for the next stink bug invasion -- it could be worse
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ATHENS, Ga. -- A University of Georgia entomologist says if you think the smelly kudzu bug has been a problem in metro-Atlanta, wait until you see what the brown marmorated stink bug can do.

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The Asian stink bug that was discovered in Pennsylvania in 2001 has made its way to Georgia. Although it isn't swarming in numbers like we've seen with the kudzu bug, University of Georgia entomologist Dr. Rick Hoebeke says it could happen.

Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia are already overrun with the brown smelly critters.

"When it first showed up, it wasn't in great numbers," said Dr. Hoebeke. "It's a pretty prolific species, and I think it will do similar things in the south."

If it does, it could get ugly and very smelly.

Unlike the kudzu bug, the brown marmorated stink bug feeds on fruits and vegetables. According to Dr. Hoebeke, growers in the mid-Atlantic have lost millions in crops due to the pest.

So far in metro-Atlanta, the brown marmorated stink bug has proven a persistent creature. Jeff Goelz sees them at his midtown home on a daily basis. Occasionally, they get inside.

"I know I'll pick up four or five at a time," said Goelz. "They'll come in around the windows if they find a crack."

Dr. Hoebke was the first entomologist to document the introduction of the brown marmorated stink bug in the United States. He says at that time, a decade ago, the numbers were small.

Not anymore.

"Some homes are essentially over run," said Dr. Hoebke. "They basically sweep them off of their porches into buckets."

Dr. Hoebke is now trying to track the growth of the smelly insect. He's asking anyone who encounters the brown marmorated stink bug to send digital pictures to his email address, rhoebeke@uga.edu.

If you're up to capturing one of the critters, he suggests you freeze it, then send it in a crush-proof container to the Georgia Museum of Natural History in Athens.

Dr. Hoebeke said researchers are working to find a way to stem the invasion of the smelly bug.

Homeowners throughout Georgia hope they succeed before they're covered up like their neighbors to the north.

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