A growing concern over the proliferation of a new pest across the U.S. not only has farmers concerned from coast-to-coast but has prompted USDA to rank the pest as its top invasive insect in the nation.

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) has spread to more than 39 states since being first detected on U.S. soil in 1998 at Allenton, Pennsylvania. Originating in Asia, it is considered a common pest in China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. But BMSB is a greater problem for U.S. agriculture because natural predators and parasites can’t help to keep populations in check and so far common pesticides used in the U.S. seem to do little in controlling the spread of the pest.

USDA entomologists are calling the stink bug a major threat to orchard fruits, garden vegetables and row crops with the most serious infestations so far reported in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia where high concentrations of the bugs threaten apples, peaches and other fruits.

Texas AgriLife entomologists say the stink bug is a “good traveler” and is known to move about rapidly over long distances by hitchhiking. Both an indoor and outdoor pest, the stink bug was first discovered in Texas last year by a pest control technician who identified it residing in a winter traveler’s recreational vehicle in Corpus Christi. The stink bug infested RV belonged to a winter visitor from Pennsylvania.

“We’re working to raise awareness about the brown marmorated stink bug in Texas,” said Bill Ree, AgriLife Extension entomologist at College Station. “This pest is hitting some states hard. Adult [stink bugs] seeking overwintering sites tend to get in recreational vehicles and travel trailers.”

Ree said the pest can cause lasting foul smells in homes and other confines, plus cause major damage to a wide variety of crops and plants.

“So far, we’ve only had one confirmed in Texas,” Ree said

AgriLife officials say while the sole stink bug uncovered on the coast was found indoors, they expect others already may be within the state and theorize Texas pecans and fruit groves in the Valley could be major targets for the pests.