Current Research Projects

green stink bugStink bugs on peaches in Florida
Student Investigator: Cory Penca
Focus: Ecology of stink bugs in agricultural settings


My current research primarily involves the study of stink bugs on peaches in Florida and broadly covers the ecology of stink bugs in agricultural settings. In recent years, plantings of peaches has increased in Florida due to the availability of UF-developed peach varieties with low chill-unit requirements, as well as the decline in orange plantings due to citrus greening. As growers look to diversify, peaches will increase in importance in the state. In areas where peaches have traditionally been grown stink bugs are a constant problem. Their mode of feeding can deform fruit, causing a type of injury called “cat-facing”, as well as producing dark spots and generally making the fruit unmarketable. Currently there is little information regarding the degree of stink bug pest pressure on peaches grown in peninsular Florida. It is our goal to provide baseline numbers regarding stink bug presence, diversity and impact. Additionally, a colony of several stink bug species is being maintained in the BRE lab for experimentation. Current experiments involve studying diapause in the southern green stinkbug. The colony also serves as source of stink bug eggs, necessary for the rearing of stinkbug egg parasitoids for experiments, as well as for use as sentinel egg masses in future efforts to understand the ecology of egg parasitoids in peach groves. Rearing multiple stink bugs species will also provide nymphal specimens of each instar which will be instrumental when developing a key to the immature stages of pest stink bugs of Florida.

 

 

Humidity

Relative Humidity of Stink Bugs

Student Investigator: Arjun Khadka

Focus: Relation of relative humidity to growth, survival and fecundity of stink bugs

 

Relative humidity is a less studied parameter with respect to insect growth, survivorship and fecundity. A clear understanding of the relationship between stink bugs and relative humidity will be drawn through an experimental design. Experimental designs will include the specimens of insect bugs and also ways to stabilize the relative humidity in the insect rearing chambers. The temperature and humidity will be recorded via Hobo data logger. I will test 4 different species of stink bugs (Bagrada bug, Southern green stink bugs, Brown Marmorated stink bug and Rice stink bug) in four levels of relative humidity (i.e. 15%, 35%, 65%, 90% in 4*4 design). Relative humidity has a potentially important but poorly understood relationship to insect growth, development, fecundity, survival, and behavior. Future directions for this research include determining what relative humidity levels are best for the best performance of the stink bugs. Data sheets of this experiment and final results can serve as a baseline for future research and can provide answers to questions related to establishment of an exotic species in a new place (i.e. for quarantine and regulatory purposes).