Brooke Maslo, wildlife expert and assistant professor in the Rutgers Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources was awarded a $34,501 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant to study how bats might help farmers combat the brown marmorated stink bug and other agricultural pests. Using DNA analysis of insect fragments in bat guano, the study will attempt to show that bats can consume the stink bugs and other agricultural pests in sufficient quantities to reduce the pest management costs for crops, such as apples, peaches, blueberries, cranberries, soybeans, and bell peppers.
Maslo’s new project builds upon her research on white nose syndrome, an epidemic disease caused by a fungal pathogen that threatens bat populations across the U.S. The USDA grant provides the opportunity for Maslo to investigate whether bats can provide an important ecological service to New Jersey’s agricultural industry as an effective control for devastating agricultural pests. Bats are known to prey on insects and consume large amounts of bugs overnight, including corn earworms, codling moths, spotted cucumber beetles and native stink bugs. If successful, Maslo’s research may attract increased conservation support for the cavity-roosting mammals. Read more on Maslo’s research.