Tag Archives: julianna wilson

Brown marmorated stink bugs – 5 resources to help you answer questions

With the coming of autumn, it is brown marmorated stink bug season once again. We’ve put together the information you’ll need to handle any calls that might come your way. A year ago, here in the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Director’s Office, our phones were ringing off the hook with people calling to report sightings and to ask questions. This year, we’ll be ready. Use the following resources and websites to learn about the invasive pest yourself as well as give to any interested callers:

  1. The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) collects information on sightings of brown marmorated stink bugs but only in certain areas. Because the stink bug is well-established across the southern half of the Lower Peninsula, the network is no longer collecting information on sightings in this region. However, the northern half of the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula are regions that should report. For a comprehensive map of the current BMSB establishment in Michigan and the most up-to-date information, check out “Why and How to Report Sightings of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in Your Home or Business” by Julianna Wilson, MSU faculty member in the Department of Entomology.
  2. To report sightings in the requested areas, people will need to go to the MISIN website or mobile app, register as a user (it’s free) and follow the instructions for submitting a report.
  3. The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB): Information for Michigan Residents on a New Home Invader” by Paul Botch, MSU Department of Entomology, and Diane Brown, MSU Extension, goes in depth and covers background information, identification and eradication. This is a great resource to familiarize yourself with in order to answer questions. It’s also a comprehensive resource to send to anyone asking for information.
  4. MSU Diagnostic Services faculty member Howard Russell created “Managing Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in Homes” about preventing and managing the brown marmorated stink bug in homes and in farms.
  5. If you have any calls from folks who’d like to have an insect identified, Howard’s “Tips on Submitting Insects for Identification” is an excellent resource on mailing a specimen or sending in digital photos.

Another common question we receive is if the insects are harmful to people or pets. Thankfully, they are not. If the bugs are harmless, why is this such a big deal? The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive species that can cause damage to Michigan plants and crops, and the further we can track its spread, the more effective we can be in prevention and management.

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Filed under Entomology, Invasive species, Resources

MSU Extension’s digital presence makes impact

Our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension articles are gaining attention nationally and around the world. I’d like to highlight two articles that have made an impression online and especially through social media.

Dr. Julianna Wilson, tree fruit integrator/outreach specialist in the Department of Entomology, wrote an article about the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) “Report Sightings of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs in Your Home or Business.” This pest can cause serious damage to crops. The invasive species’ presence in our state is a high-impact issue that was able to gain the attention it deserved because of our well-established digital presence.

As of Oct. 12, this article has had 96,500 pageviews since it was posted on Sept. 25, making it the seventh most visited article on the MSU Extension website overall. On Sept. 28, we had a record 25,594 visits in a single day (primarily because of this article). (We average 11,000 to 13,000 per day with a record of just under 15,000.) On Sept. 29, that record was broken with 42,812 visits (again spiked by this visit). At its peak, these numbers were growing by 100 pageviews every four minutes. Ninety-one percent of the traffic to the article has been from mobile devices. Average read time is 4:07, which means people are taking the time to read it and absorb what they’ve read. More than 67,000 of the visits to this article have come from social media. It has spurred more than 17,000 social media interactions.

The article asks readers to report any sightings of the stinky pest to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN). Before the article was posted, there were six records of BMSB in the MISIN database. As of Oct. 13, there were 1,860 records of BMSB from Michigan and northern parts of states that border us ‒ mostly from the Toledo, Ohio, and South Bend, Indiana, regions.

Julianna said, “What these numbers tell me is that social media played a huge role in getting the word out about the article, and then the fact that the MSU Extension website is mobile friendly helped keep people there and reading the article. The last two pieces that made this a success were having an established database for collecting reports and good timing. This is the time of year when the bug moves into people’s homes and they notice it. The fact that we have this well-established reporting site (MISIN) for invasive species meant that I didn’t have to create a way for people to report numbers to me ‒ the infrastructure was already in place.

“I plan to use this data to determine where other hotspots have been forming and to get the word out to growers in those areas that if they haven’t before, they should certainly be scouting for this pest next season,” she said.

One member of our MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Team is getting the word out about a particular poisonous fruit. Extension educator Gretchen Voyle wrote an article for the MSU Extension website “What Fruit Is Growing on My Potato Plants?

As a potato disease specialist, I was particularly drawn to the article that talks about the phenomenon that occurs when potato plants produce fruit on top of the plants. In fact, one of the first questions I was asked when I got to MSU was about tomatoes growing on potato plants. It seems that our cool July weather was responsible for the fruit’s appearance this year. The alkaloid content of these fruits puts them into the “they are edible once” category. In other words, don’t eat them!

It seems that a lot of other people are interested in this as well.

Dennis Bond, manager of Web services in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources let us know about the spread of Gretchen’s words warning people about the fruit.

Dennis said, “The article helped the MSU Extension website set a traffic record of 17,471 visits (previous record: 15,960 on June 1) though that record was broken seven days later by the article on the stink bug. It also set a social media record of 4,381 visits from social media sources, another record broken a week later. At its height in popularity, it was viewed on all major continents, in 2,040 cities across 100 countries in 63 languages.”

That gives us great perspective on the extensive reach of our MSU Extension website! Congratulations to Gretchen and to Julianna!

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Filed under MSUE News

Extension educator is lead author in prestigious journal article

Dr. Wendy Powers, director of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute, and I received an email from Douglas A. Landis, professor and interim chairperson in the Michigan State University Department of Entomology. The email called attention to MSU Extension educator Ben Werling as the lead author on a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The article, “Perennial Grasslands Enhance Biodiversity and Multiple Ecosystem Services in Bioenergy Landscapes,” related to postdoctorate work Ben led in Dr. Landis’ lab working on a Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) project. Ben and Dr. Landis led a large group of collaborators (the GLBRC Biodiversity Team) studying the impacts of bioenergy cropping systems on biodiversity and ecosystem services. This synthetic work combines information on plant, insect, microbe and bird biodiversity and the services that flow from their presence (biomass, pest suppression, pollination, GHG mitigation, and bird watching opportunities) in bioenergy crops. It’s hoped that this information further informs policy and the roll-out of the most sustainable systems.

Dr. Landis said, “Ben led a 1.5 yearlong effort to synthesize the data, conduct the analyses and write the paper. My guess is that he is too humble to have mentioned this, so I just wanted to let you know what a fine job he has done!”

Papers published in the PNAS are remarkable achievements, and require a recommendation by a National Academy of Sciences member to be accepted. That distinction is reserved for particularly significant findings. It is especially rare for a paper in PNAS to be authored by an Extension educator.

Others authors on the paper who receive support from MSU Extension include Rufus Isaacs and Julianna Wilson, both in the Department of Entomology, and Katherine Gross, director of the Kellogg Biological Station.

Congratulations to Ben and the rest of the team for this synthetic work and the recognition they have received!

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