Researchers at the Plant Protection Institute of the ELKH Centre for Agricultural Research (ATK NÖVI) have developed a new, artificial heat source based stink bug trap. In addition to the previously developed pheromone traps by ATK NÖVI researchers, which have long been used in plant cultivation, this new environmentally friendly method promises a viable defense against invasive bugs that cause significant damage to crops. The use of heated traps is effective precisely when the effectiveness of pheromone traps decreases. By enabling an extension of the protection period against stink bugs, this method allows for a more comprehensive reduction of pest populations. A paper on the research results was published in the international scientific journal Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae.
The unwelcome presence of "stink bugs" invading our homes in large numbers during autumn is causing widespread dissatisfaction. These bugs seek shelter indoors to avoid the cold, without causing any harm to humans. However, in small gardens and greenhouses, stink bugs can become a major problem, causing significant damage by feeding on crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables. In recent times, Hungary has seen an influx of several invasive stink bug species, including the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) and the green vegetable bug (Nezara viridula), which have proliferated and caused mass infestations. While farmers face the challenge of controlling these pests throughout the season, urban dwellers tend to encounter them in large numbers during the autumn when they congregate near houses in search of hibernation sites, causing great annoyance to many people.
The researchers at ATK NÖVI have recently developed a completely new trapping method for these stink bug species. The newly designed and constructed traps rely on a different approach, taking advantage of the fact that these insects seek out locations during the period of hibernation in September and October that provide them with better survival opportunities. Typically, these locations are warmer, well-protected areas, often made by humans, such as homes. The traps developed by the researchers utilize an artificial heat source to attract the stink bugs.
The structure of the trap
During the development process, a thermostat-regulated heating pad was placed inside the trap to provide a constant, experimentally determined temperature that mimics a favorable hibernation location for the stink bugs. The traps were placed in front of a hibernation site favored by brown marmorated stink bugs in October, where a large number of these pests had gathered. Both heated traps and unheated control traps were set up. In line with their diurnal activity patterns, the stink bugs were significantly more attracted to the heated traps during the sunny afternoon hours. On an average trapping day, over a five-hour period, the heated traps attracted 13 percent of the average number of brown marmorated stink bugs detected near the trapping area.
Testing the trap (control trap on the left)
During the season, in addition to the pheromone traps commonly used in plant cultivation, the newly developed method offers a promising defense against stink bugs. The use of heated traps is effective precisely when the effectiveness of pheromone traps decreases. This makes it possible to extend the period of protection against stink bugs, thus facilitating further reduction of pests. The new trap is completely environmentally friendly, containing no toxic chemicals, and can be used by the public.
Gábor Bozsik, Gábor Szőcs, Jenő Kontschán (2023). A new model of stink bug traps: heated trap for capturing Halyomorpha halys during the autumn dispersal period. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 69(1): 39-46. DOI: 10.17109/AZH.188.8.131.523