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Gov't Shutdown Boon to Invasive Bugs

Brown marmorated stink bugs feed on "about anything that makes a seed or a fruit," said Ames Herbert, a Virginia Tech University entomologist.
Brown marmorated stink bugs feed on "about anything that makes a seed or a fruit," said Ames Herbert, a Virginia Tech University entomologist.
CREDIT: Image via David R. Lance, USDA | Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

If invasive bugs were capable of having political opinions, they might be quite happy about the government shutdown .

Scientists studying the brown marmorated stink bug, for example, have had to quit work just as these obnoxious invasive bugs are seeking shelter for the winter, an important part of their life cycle, according to the Entomological Society of America. These bugs are found in 40 states and cause millions of dollars in damages to crops every year, scientists say. Researchers studying control methods for the Asian citrus psyllid, a major agricultural pest, could also be delayed more than a year.

The shutdown may suspend tests, for 12 months or more, to see if parasitic wasps could be used to reduce numbers of emerald ash borers, invasive beetles that have already destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States. "Because of the shutdown, my colleagues and I are prevented from studying a possible management tool that could greatly benefit American forests," David Jennings, a University of Maryland researcher, told the ESA. Jennings recently relocated to a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility but cannot legally enter it during the shutdown. 

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