Scientists study ‘No. 1 threat’ to cotton
By Peter Hull
Stinkbugs, so named because they secrete a foul-smelling liquid that repels most predators, gnaw on some of the region’s most important crops, including cotton, corn, peanuts, soybeans, tobacco and wheat.
Clemson researchers Francis Reay-Jones, Jeremy Greene, and Carlos Carpi, along with Michael Tows, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, have been awarded a USDA grant to develop methods to control the pests, particularly in cotton.
Once considered secondary pests in the United States, cotton crop losses caused by stinkbug damage were estimated at $60 million in 2002, with losses of more than 151,000 cotton bales in 2006.
“Stinkbugs are going to be the No. 1 insect pest of cotton in the Southeast,” Greene said.
The study is being conducted at the Pee Dee and Edisto research and education centers, on two fields on a private farm in Cameron, S.C., and in fields in Tifton, Ga. Their research could lead to substantial reductions of insecticide use to control stinkbugs in cotton.