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Bad New Bug in Town

State agriculture officials find pest on Maui that eats a wide range of crops.


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A new insect pest with a foul name has come to Hawai‘i. The bagrada bug (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae: Bagrada hilaris), also known as the painted stink bug, was discovered in a Maui garden.

 

State agriculture officials detected the insect last week in a student garden on the University of Hawai‘i Maui College campus.  Staff from the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture investigated and found five adult and two nymphs of the bagrada bug on Chinese cabbage and tatsoi in the garden. 

Entomologists confirmed the identification on Oct. 17 and this week found the infestation to be limited to the tatsoi and kai choi crops at the college.  A total of 19 adults and two nymphs has been found to date. 

 

Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, says the state classifies the bug as a serious threat to many major vegetable crops. “We are surveying the state for any other infestations of this pest and also working on determining treatment options available for local farmers and home gardeners.”

 

The bagrada bug feeds on plants using its needle-like mouthparts to suck the juices from the plant, resulting in stippled or wilted areas on the leaves and in some cases stunting the plant.

 

The bug is black with distinctive orange and white markings and measures five to seven millimeters long.  It has a broad range of targets including cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, radish, turnips, watercress, kale, mustard, collard greens and various cabbages (with a preference for Asiatic varieties such as pak choy, tatsoi, and Chinese cabbage). It can also feed on corn, cucumbers, okra, sugarcane, papaya, potato, cotton, figs and some legumes.  It also shows a preference for a variety ofweeds in the mustard family.

 

State agriculture officials are launching a statewide survey program for this pest. If you see this insect please call the Plant Pest Control Branch on Oahu at 973-9525; emailhdoa.ppc@hawaii.gov; or call the statewide toll-free Pest Hotline at 643-PEST (7378).

 

Native to Africa, the bagrada bug is related to stinkbugs and was first detected in Los Angeles County in June 2008. It has since spread to Southern California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Utah and West Texas.

 

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