Stink bugs, a pest to soybean crops, are expected to be a major problem this year.

County Agent Vince Deshotel, with the LSU AgCenter in Opelousas, blames the weather.

“For our last two winters we have not had a freeze, so there has been virtually no die-back,” Deshotel said.

Jeff Davis, LSU AgCenter entomologist, said he is finding stink bugs in agricultural fields earlier this year than expected.

“We found them active in clover all winter. We even found them reproducing in the winter, and they are not supposed to be,” Davis said.

Redbanded stink bug nymphs are of special concern this year.

“They are by far the most destructive,” said Deshotel.

Davis said he found redbanded stink bug nymphs this week on soybeans that are only 8 inches tall and adult redbanded stink bugs in 12-inch-high soybean plots. Both discoveries were at the South Farm of the Rice Research Station in Crowley, where Davis said he rarely finds any stink bugs.

“The redbanded stink bug is the No. 1 pest of Louisiana soybeans,” Davis said. “We are not supposed to be finding stink bugs in Louisiana this early in the vegetative stage. All the literature says we won’t find them until pods have developed.”

He said, if left unchecked, the redbanded stink bug can cause damage so extensive that farmers may lose an entire field of beans.

Although the stink bugs are showing up in the test fields, Deshotel said he hasn’t received any reports yet in this area, but that doesn’t surprise him.

“We have had such a wet and cool season that planting has just begun, but we do expect to see them,” Deshotel said.

As soybeans are the parish’s major crop, Deshotel warns local farmers to be on alert.