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Stink Bugs To Cause Havoc To Hudson Valley Fruit Crops

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A household pest is rearing it's smelly head.

It first turned up in Pennsylvania back in the 1990s and has continued to spread into the Tri-State Area. Now it's threatening fresh fruit crops in our area, reports CBS 2's Katie Fehlinger.

They're creepy. They're crawly. And when you crush them, they're stinky.

"Something akin to wet leaves. Some people find it really offensive," said Jerry Giordano, community education at the Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

Make no mistake, the stink bugs are back. Residential infestations which plagued parts of New Jersey in recent years have already begun to encroach north. But expect more than just a home invasion this time around.

"The biggest problem is gonna be on fruit," Giordano said.

Horticulturists say peaches, tomatoes, apples and more could all suffer damage from the brown marmorated stink bug this growing season, particularly in the Hudson Valley.

Randy Pratt, who operates a fruit farm in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., has dealt with the pests before.

"It uses its mouthparts and sucks the juice out, and then what happens is you get what's called a dry or a corky spot," Pratt said.

Although he has yet to see any stink bugs on his property, Pratt said he's on the lookout.

"For me it affects my entire business because people come here to pick apples. And if your crop isn't out there for them to pick there's really no reason, really, for them to come here," Pratt said.

Apple trees like the Ida red won't even be ready for picking until early fall -- right around the time the infestation's expected to occur. So, Pratt said all he can do is wait and see.

"There's nothing we can do ahead of time to stop it. If it's coming, we just have to take care of it when it gets here," he said.

Since this particular pest feeds on lots of different plant types, they're tough to get rid of and there's no way sure-fire way to control them.

"You basically vacuum them up or collect them in a way without crushing them," Giordano said.

So far, more than 30 stink bug reports and samples have come in from the Hudson Valley. Experts say, for now, there's no need to panic, but expect a stinky situation in the months ahead.

Now that the weather's warming up, don't be surprised if you notice more stink bugs since they're emerging from their winter hiding places. Since the bugs turned up in the U.S., they've been found in 32 states.

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