Global warming could see invasive crop-destroying stink bugs travel further into the United States
A relatively new problem
Brown stink bugs weren’t always an American problem. They are native to East Asia and were first discovered in Pennsylvania about 20 years ago.
Today, they have spread across the country, but prefer to reside in the Mid-Atlantic, parts of the Midwest, and the West Coast.
Researchers in the new study sought to assess how far these pests could spread as climate change continues to warm the climate in the United States. They used factors such as temperatures and precipitation rates in a model simulation aimed at predicting which parts of the country might become more or less attractive to bedbugs by 2080.
Alarmingly, they found that the number of suitable habitats for these pesky insects could increase by 70%. The mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes region and western valley regions, such as around Sacramento, Calif., will be hardest hit, the model suggests.
This will particularly affect agriculture in these regions.
“Every system will change with climate change, so just because you can grow chickpeas, lentils or wheat without these pests now doesn’t mean you won’t have them in a few years,” said the lead author of the study, Javier Gutierrez Illan. , a Washington State University entomologist. “There are mitigations we can do, but it’s wise to be prepared for change.”
Insects need two things to thrive: warm weather and water. So if an area is too cold or too dry, it won’t see many of these notorious bugs. Yet, so far, stink bugs have managed to thrive.