The Message of the Stinkbug
Today, thousands move around the world every day—by ship and plane and freight and pallet and packing crate, by business meetings in Switzerland and military deployments in Pakistan and tourism in Hawaii. At present, this vast influx of new species costs the United States about a hundred and twenty billion dollars a year and is, after habitat destruction, the main reason the world has lost so much biodiversity.
In a way, then, we got off easy this time. The difficulty is that there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that.
For most of us, as a result, the stinkbug is psychologically opposite from but politically identical to the polar bear. Like charismatic megafauna, revolting microfauna spurs us to action: we form committees, cough up funding, demand that something be done. The difficulty is what to do about everything in between those two biological extremes: the endangered Japanese night heron and the threatened lakeside daisy, the prairies lost, the wetlands lost, the glaciers lost, the species lost, the diminishing and despoiling of entire ecosystems. A stinkbug on your toothbrush or seven thousand in your attic is disgusting. Yet the most troubling thing about the natural world today is not all the things we have to live with. It is all the things we have to live without.
By Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, March 12, 2008 issue
Raupp compared the brown marmorated stinkbug to a slow-moving tsunami that began on the East Coast and will gradually engulf the rest of the country. “The folks out in the Midwest, the folks on the West Coast—they’re going to face the same kind of economic loss that our folks did back here,”
Raupp, who has been studying non-native species for forty-one years, called its arrival on our shores “one of the most productive incidents in the history of invasive pests in the United States.” Because the stinkbug is, as he put it, “magnificent and dastardly,” it has attracted an almost unprecedented level of scientific attention. It has spawned multimillion-dollar grants, dozens of master’s degrees and Ph.D.s, and a huge collaborative partnership that includes the federal government, land-grant colleges, Ivy League universities, extension programs, environmental organizations, trade groups, small farmers, and agribusiness. “From a research perspective,” Raupp said, “this was and continues to be one of the major drivers in the history of entomology in the United States.”
An Areawide Biointensive Management Plan for Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), to Reduce Impacts Throughout the Agro-Urban Interface