In 2010, the state saw its first major outbreak of the insects in the Eastern Panhandle. Some farmers lost as much as much as 80 percent of their crops, he said.
Last year the Environmental Protection Agency approved the emergency use of a pesticide in orchards to help address the stinkbug problem. Organic farmers have more limited options, though.
"It's very difficult for someone to be in the orchard business and for them not to take advantage of the conventional pesticides," Davidson said.
WVU started stinkbug projects in 2009 with a West Virginia Specialty Crop Block Grant and a research grant from the State Horticulture Association of Pennsylvania, Park said.
"With these grants, we surveyed stinkbugs in West Virginia and found them in 29 counties so far," Park said. But Park believes the insects are in all 55 counties, he said.
With the latest grant, WVU's part in the research will be to look for natural enemies of the stinkbug. WVU researchers will look into trap crops, which are plants that attract the bug and then can be burned to destroy the insect, Park said. They'll try to track the movements of the stinkbugs, Park said.
If they can predict the insect's movements, they can stop it, Park said.
One of the stinkbug's natural enemies is a soldier bug, which is very similar to the stinkbug.
"It's a stinkbug too, but one is eating plants and the other is eating bugs," Park said.
The project involves 25 researchers, three organic organizations, and 12 organic farms.
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.