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Help Entomologists Track Invasive Insects Using Your SmartPhone

Researchers are following the travels of two invasive species of insects as they make their way up the Hudson Valley - they're looking for citizen scientists to help track the creatures: Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

With the days growing shorter and evenings cooler, two species of insect join many others looking to use our homes as temporaty shelters to increase their chance of survival.

Peter Jentsch  is a Senior Extension Associate for Cornell University's Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland. He explains that the multicolored Asian ladybird beetle is considered a beneficial insect, a predator of insect pests, especially fond of aphids.

Both the stinkbug and the beetle hail from regions of China, Korea, and Japan - they've readily adapted to climates and habitats in the U.S. They are most commonly found this time of year gathering on the sun-facing exposure of structures, restlessly making their way into the upper rooms and attic of your home.

Jentsch says the stinkbug presents a danger to local agriculture. As the stink bugs attempt to move inside, Jentsch and other researchers hope to collect, verify and document the spread of this invasive species as a way to help residents and agricultural producers understand the insect's population distribution and lessen its impact.

The data is essential in agricultural planning for years to come.  This is where YOU come in:  Anyone sees a stink bug is asked to email an image or send a sample to Cornell Cooperative Extension. Phones with location software enabled such as iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys can all geotag photos with GPS locations to help Jentsch and his team map the location where the specimen was photographed.

Anyone who has seen this pest is asked to send an image or sample to Cornell Cooperative Extension. Images can be e-mailed to BMSBProject@cornell.edu.

For WAMC listeners who are interested in joining the Citizen Science BMSB project, they are now accepting clear close-up images of the brown marmorated stink bug to track the spread of this new insect to New York State.

If ‘live’ insect specimens are submitted they should be placed in a small plastic container, such as a medicine bottle or film canister, with a submission form from the extension’s website (http://hudsonvf.cce.cornell.edu/bmsb1.html), filled out and mailed to Peter Jentsch, BMSB Project, Cornell Hudson Valley Lab, P.O. Box 727, Highland, N.Y. 12528.

The brown marmorated stink bug is often confused with three other wintertime home invaders; the western conifer seed bug, boxelder bug and the squash bug.  In the spring, all will leave.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.