AHDB Horticulture Cost: £49,465
Summary: The UK faces the emergence of a new crop pest, now confirmed to be present in South-East England in the wild. The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) (Pentatomidae: Halyomorpha halys) is a serious and generalist pest native to Asia but spreading globally with serious impacts on agricultural productivity. Modeling based on regional climate data and the insect life cycle suggests that South-East England is the most suitable region of the UK for establishment. Adult BMSB were found in Hampshire in 2018/2019, but other life stages (indicating breeding populations) have not yet been reported. The insect poses a likely imminent threat to UK horticulture as it is able to feed on and damage a wide range of plant species, including soft fruit, ornamentals, field vegetables and tree fruit. Unfortunately the adults and nymphs of this new invasive pest are very similar in appearance to those of native UK shield bug species, and when egg masses are found in crops it is currently impossible to identify them to species.
Aim: To develop and validate a rapid and reliable DNA-based identification method for brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).
1) Develop a high-throughput, rapid DNA-based method for forensic detection of BMSB.
2) Evaluate the reliability of this test for species-level identification of adults, nymphs and egg masses.
3) Investigate the feasibility of combining the new test with monitoring (using pheromone-baited traps) as part of an early BMSB surveillance programme.
4) Evaluate this test for secondary detection of parasitoids which may contribute to natural bio-control.