The recent government shutdown due to a stalemate in Congress over funding for 2014 is impacting research on insects which will affect the lives of many Americans, according to the Entomological Society of America (ESA).
In addition to the closing of government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency, many scientists at universities and other research institutions are affected as well. For some entomologists, the timing couldn’t be worse because the insects they study in the field must be observed in the late summer to early fall in order to determine their regional populations and how they prepare for the winter.
“An important part of the seasonal biology of the brown marmorated stink bug is its movement to protected places for the winter,” said Dr. Douglas Pfeiffer, a Virginia Tech entomologist working with USDA scientists. “Just when entomologists are getting set to take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to better understand the brown marmorated stink bug, federal research funding is put in park.”
The invasive brown marmorated stink bug causes millions of dollars in damage to fruits and vegetables each year and is found in more than 40 states.
“Any delays in our research, such as the one we’re facing now, will also delay possible solutions for managing the stink bugs, and will ultimately cost farmers and consumers millions of dollars.”