Agriculture, Central New York, Community, Environment, Public Safety, Syracuse

Samurai Wasps and Citizen Scientists Make for a Dynamic Duo versus Stinkbugs in CNY

New York Scientists are promoting a plan to help combat invasive stinkbugs, but they need your help (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

By Jose Cuevas Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) — Cornell Professor Arthur Agnello and Peter Jentsch are working on a project where everyday citizens can help bring the fight to stink bugs.

Terri Lauber enlisted as a citizen scientist in Syracuse and was happy to help. “I like science and nature, and why not they need help in fighting the stinkbugs,” said Lauber. Lauber elected to send pictures of stink bugs she found in her house to help the scientists understand the local Syracuse stink bug population.

Those who enlist can help by donating funds for the project, sending samples or pictures of stinkbugs, or can help a natural predator of the stinkbug gain a foothold in their local community.

Agnello and Jentsch have identified an ally in nature that can help in their battle against the stink bug, the Samurai Wasp.

Agnello said they noticed the wasp when his colleagues spotted a few of them here in the United States.

The parasatization process of a Samurai Wasp (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The Samurai Wasp helps reduce the stinkbug population through the following process:

  • A female Samurai Wasp finds a group of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug eggs and lays an egg of her own in the eggs, otherwise called egg parasatism.
  • The larvae Samurai Wasps begin to eat the stink bug eggs from the inside for nourishment.
  • Three weeks after parasatism the a young Samurai Wasp emerges from the stink bug egg
  • The Samurai Wasp mates with a fellow female and the cycle repeats itself

 

Agnello has seen more and more stinkbugs invading people’s homes in hopes of finding a warm place during the winter months. “They find seams on screens, sneak in through windows, and are pretty committed to finding warm places to reside,” said Agnello.

They are not just a household pest but they are causing problems for farmers in New York. “The farmers in the Hudson Valley are having a really difficult time, the stinkbugs are eating their crops…they’ve attacked pepper fields and peach fields,” said Agnello.

He hopes the project can help the samurai wasp reduce the population of stink bugs to a level where they cannot cause so much damage or be such a nuisance.

Lauber is excited to help more if possible. “I wouldn’t mind receiving some of the parasatized eggs…it’s pretty neat,” said Lauber.

If you are interested in becoming a citizen scientist you can visit the project’s website here.