As millions of stink bugs begin to creep into American homes, searching for a place to winter, the government scientists who are leading research into how to manage the pests are not allowed to work.
”Out of the Office” While the Bugs Move In
The director of the project team that is studying how to control America's top invasive insect—the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug—has been furloughed due to the federal government shutdown.
Tracy Leskey, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Appalachian Fruit Research Station in West Virginia, heads up a team of over 50 entomologists working across the country to figure out how to manage the booming population of stink bugs. But now, during a key research period—the time of the year when stink bugs begin to invade homes to prepare for winter—she's not allowed to work.
Chris Bergh, an entomologist working at Virginia Tech, is researching the movement of stink bugs into various shelters with Leskey.
"This is the only time you can do that work," said Bergh. "In the last few days we've seen a mass movement of the bugs."
"I am not in the office at this time," reads Leskey's automatic email reply from her government account. "I am on furlough without access to email, due to the lapse in federal government funding. I will return your message as soon as possible once funding has been restored."
Other scientists studying the bug at the Agricultural Research Service have also been furloughed, according to ARS's website.
How to Deal With a Stink Bug Home Invasion
The sheer numbers of stink bugs on buildings, crops and in woods are challenging scientists.
Bergh estimates there are billions. "I have not in my career faced this kind of challenge," he said.
Not long ago stink bugs were found only in the mid-Atlantic region, but now they’ve made homes in at least 39 states, from California to Florida, and as far north as Ontario. Unfortunately for the handful of states not yet invaded, these little bugs can fly up to two kilometers a day.
If you see the irksome little pests roaming around your house, you might want to read “10 Ways to Fend Off Stink Bugs” so you don’t stink up your house while trying to evict them.
If you want the federal government to get these researchers back to work, contact you congressman.
Have you discovered stink bugs in your home? If so, how do you handle them? Tell us in a comment or blog post.