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Stink Bug Threat Has States Asking For Expanded Pesticide Options

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Local farmers worry stink bugs will continue to ruin crops this growing season.
Sally King, National Park Service
Local farmers worry stink bugs will continue to ruin crops this growing season.

Robert Black runs Catoctin Mountain Orchard in Thurmont, Md. Large portions of his fruit crop were damaged last year by stink bugs, and he's worried this year could be worse.

"There are just so many more here, I don't know what the number will be -- billions? I mean it's unbelievable," he says.

That's why several states are preparing to ask the EPA to be more flexible in regulating pesticides. They'd like to use a pesticide called dinotefuran, usually reserved for such things as grapes, on other fruit crops.

Christopher Bergh, an entomologist with Virginia Tech, is leading the effort.

"Laboratory data generated in recent months suggest that it does have good activity, certainly the Asians have used it to manage brown stink bugs in orchards in Japan and Korea," he says.

Mike Raup, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, suspects the EPA may allow it.

"Expansion of pesticide labels happen all the time. It's not unusual, so I think everything's on the table right now," Raup says.

Farmers and entomologists say the pesticides are only an emergency measure until a more long-term solution can be found.

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