Anne Nielsen was among the first entomologists to study the brown marmorated stink bug after its introduction to North America. I contacted her last week to get her insights on the pest potential of BMSB in North Carolina. Dr. Nielsen is currently a post doctoral researcher at Michigan State University. Below are her comments.
BMSB is predicted to have at least 2 generations per year in your region. Given what populations have done in the Mid-Atlantic, it is highly likely that BMSB will become a pest in North Carolina as well. In other states, significant feeding damage has occurred in pome or stone fruit. It will readily feed on vegetables (soybean, tomatoes, peppers and corn) and small fruit, although damage reports haven't been as severe in these crops to date. I would expect it to feed on cotton, as other pentatomids do, but we don't have any data to confirm that yet. Populations will be highest in late summer/early fall as the final adult generation prepares for diapause. This adult generation is also highly attracted to blacklight traps, which are a very good way of identifying populations at low densities in the
farmscape. Within two years of detection on farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, BMSB has negatively impacted the exant pentatomid community in terms of species richness and species evenness. This is not surprising given the low rates of egg parasitism we have seen. BMSB appears to be highly aggregated in the crops where it is present, although distributions can be patchy.
We noticed that new locations were usually first identified as a result of their overwintering behavior. George Hamilton and I set-up a website (which he still manages) that allows homeowners to learn about BMSB as well as report sightings. We were able to learn of numerous new state records in this way and feel free to pass along the web site to your county offices and end-users. I think it is important to have a centralized database for this type of information.
In other areas, there was a 3-5 year lag between the time of detection in a state and high numbers in agricultural crops. However, I would not be surprised in BMSB has been in North Carolina for a few years already.