Keep an Eye Out for Red Banded Stink Bugs

If you’re paying attention to Twitter, questions about red banded stink bugs (RBSB) have started popping up from farmers across the South, from Louisiana to Alabama. These pests (which originated in South America and have worked their way north) can cause severe damage to a soybean crop and have a lower economic threshold than most stink bugs.

Some studies from the University of Arkansas indicate that RBSB can cause more damage on a per insect basis than other species of stink bug. Whether it was caused by the mild winter experienced in the region or the late planting due to weather events, it’s evident that RBSB are making a mark on soybeans in the South in 2019. 

Not Sure How to Identify a Red Banded Stink Bug?

Roughly half the size of other stink bug species, RBSB are green and can be identified by a red band across the back and a fixed spine along the abdomen. They are often confused with a red shouldered stink bug, which is similar in size and coloration, but will not have the raised spine on the abdomen.

Damage Caused by Red Banded Stink Bugs

RBSB will feed on most parts of the soybean plant, but the nymph and adult stages prefer to feed on pods and seeds. This can have a significant impact on yield and seed quality, while also delaying maturity and causing abnormal plant growth. 

Scouting for Red Banded Stink Bugs

RBSB are prolific. In a Deep South state like Louisiana, RBSB can go through 4-8 generations in a single growing season. This means that growth stages from egg to adult can all be present at the same time, impacting the effectiveness of insecticides. And since most soybean insecticides have a limited amount of residual activity, RBSB can pop up in a field quickly, making timely scouting even more important.

PRO TIP: Red banded stink bugs will do 60% of their feeding in the bottom two-thirds of the canopy.

Farmers who think they might be looking at a RBSB problem should use a sweep net to check their insect counts. The economic threshold is approximately 6 bugs in 25 sweeps. Stink bugs will retreat into the canopy when temperatures are high, so take this into consideration when scouting is in progress. And since they reproduce quickly, be sure to check for RBSB on at least a weekly basis. 

How You Can Control Red Banded Stick Bugs

The primary insecticides used to combat RBSB include the active ingredient bifenthrin, but those with high rates of acephate can also be useful. The most effective tank mixes, however, include more than one active ingredient. This helps ensure adequate coverage while also protecting against resistance issues. A lambdacyhalothrin and thiamethoxam combination can also be useful against this pest.

Learn More About Field Scouting in The FBN Podcast

FBN's Head of Agronomy, Dr. Darin Lickfeldt, & Senior Staff Agronomist, Hunter Stone, take a deep dive into field scouting, outlining the different technologies & resources that are available to assist farmers in their scouting needs.

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Russ Ottens, University of Georgia,