Our latest myth buster blog post tackles some common misconceptions about the brown marmorated stink bug - a serious problem for the shipping industry.
We’ve highlighted the strict controls that some countries - especially Australia and New Zealand - are placing on goods entering their ports in our previous posts regarding the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). Control measures and protocols have been heightened for identified high risk countries during critical times of the year: namely 1 September to 30 April.
The reason for this is that these tiny insects have the capacity to devastate crops if allowed to enter and settle in a country. They have already infiltrated countries like Asia, the US, Canada, and parts of Europe - and have huge cost implications for fruit and vegetable farming and exports, not to mention being a nuisance to homeowners.
We looked into some of the myths surrounding the stink bug, and what a couple of the well known shipping companies are saying about them.
Common myths about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug:
Myth: Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) originated in Europe.
Fact: These critters have been detected in many countries around the world, but China has been confirmed to be a common source.
The bugs, which are avid hitch-hikers, are now prevalent in the US, Canada, and Europe. In Asia, BMSBs are present not only in China, but in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. (Source: Wallenius Wilhelmsen)
Wikipedia confirms that “The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is native to China, Japan, Korea and other Asian regions. It is now established in many parts of North America, and has recently become established in Europe and South America.”
Myth: BMSB fly onto vessels and may be picked up at stops along the way.
Fact: BMSB are hitchhikers. They find hiding spaces in cargo, vehicles, construction machinery, and materials which means that cargo is sometimes shipped with the hibernating bugs already inside. They are also so small and good at hiding that they are easy to miss during routine visual inspections.
MOL Mitsui O.S.K. Lines say that “Quarantine inspections by the Australia's Department of Agriculture is particularly strict for vessels from certain high risk countries and depending on the results of an inspection, there may be a significant impact to the vessel's operating schedule.”
Myth: Roll on, Roll off vessels and container ships can be treated in the same way for BMSBs.
Fact: “RoRo vessels are subject to much greater scrutiny than container ships if BMSBs are found onboard.”
In container cargo, it is much easier to isolate and treat the infested container, whereas the entire RoRo vessel would be subject to inspection. This can lead to delays of days or even weeks. (Source: Wallenius Wilhelmsen)
Myth: BMSBs can be exterminated during a vessel’s journey using fogging.
Fact: Fogging reduces but does not eliminate the risk of live bugs being found.
"Fogging is an extra precaution that can help ensure vessels arrive in Australia or New Zealand without live BMSBs on board. It involves an irritant that brings bugs out of hibernation prior to arrival – and without food and water, they eventually die. Fogging isn’t considered an effective treatment by the authorities as it reduces but doesn’t eliminate the risk of live bugs being found. Multiple treatments may be necessary to reduce risk.” - Wallenhuis Wilhelmsen
In addition to fogging a residual treatment can be applied to ensure bugs are eliminated.
Myth: Stink bugs bite humans
Fact: Unlike bed bugs “stink bugs do not bite people, they won’t harm your pets, and they don’t spread diseases.
Most species of stink bugs, including brown marmorated stink bugs, are herbivores that prefer to feed on plants, fruits, and sometimes even nuts and seeds. While this is good news for all of us, it can lead to costly damage for vegetable and fruit farmers.” - Prevention Health
Myth: Stink bugs don’t really stink
Fact: They do, but only when they are threatened.
Then they release a pungent smell as a defence mechanism to keep predators away!
How Rentokil can help:
So if you are in a high risk country and exporting goods to either Australia or New Zealand during a critical period, please do carry out regular inspections for BMSB by an approved service provider.
Read more about our experience with treating vessels in a previous blog.