Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs have their origins in Asia and cause huge damage to crops, which is why any sign of these pests has to be immediately dealt with. Read more about the risk of BMSB's in our blog below.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs have their origins in Asia and have invaded countries in Europe and the USA causing huge damage to crops and residences. They are considered a bio-hazardous pest due to their ability to destroy agricultural crops (including fruit orchards and vegetables) and in turn have an extremely negative impact on the economy of any country unfortunate enough to suffer a BMSB invasion.
The BMSB's inability to fly long distances is compensated by their ability to hide in confined, inconspicuous spaces and thus be transported far distances. They cling to the undercarriages of vehicles or hide in parts of vehicles and machinery being shipped to other countries, and they stow away on luggage, hiding in virtually anything on which they can hitch a ride.
In December 2019, a cargo-ship carrying vehicles and heavy machinery was denied entry into Australian waters when it was found to be carrying stowaway BMSB that could have inflicted $20 billion worth of damage to the Australian economy. The insects would decimate Australia's agricultural crops and horticulture if they were allowed to establish there.
In the news most recently
Biosecurity New Zealand has released a new web tool which allows people to report suspected exotic pests - such as the BMSB - and diseases online. “In 2021, phone calls to our exotic pests and diseases hotline triggered 1,942 investigations. While few of those resulted in actual incursions, every report was valued. If highly invasive exotic pests like the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug or Queensland Fruit Fly go unreported, they could establish here, creating significant damage to our environment and economy.
Alerts from the public about things that appear out of the ordinary to them, along with reports from our primary sector partners make up an important part of New Zealand’s strong biosecurity system,” says Biosecurity New Zealand deputy director-general Stuart Anderson.
How to identify Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
Adult bugs are up to 1.7 cm in length and have a shield-shaped body which is mottled brown, with black and white banding around the rear.
The BMSB is a very hard pest to detect as they most often resemble native stink bugs. Native stink bugs look similar but are not harmful and the BMSBs could, therefore, go unnoticed. Farmers are therefore requested by their country's authorities to keep a watchful eye for these bugs and notify their bureaus of any sightings.
Why are stink bugs such a risk?
BMSB's are extremely difficult to destroy and breed quickly and easily. Female stink bugs lay eggs on the underside of leaves in clusters of 35-45 which develop from nymph to adult in 30 to 60 days, depending on the temperature. In the USA there have been countless occurrences of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs invading homes during the colder autumn and winter months, as they look for warmth.
Stink bugs get their name from the foul smell which they release to ward off predators and also to attract other stink bugs. This can be quite unpleasant for the unsuspecting homeowner! When squashed, they also emit a pungent odour which makes getting rid of them hard to do without the unpleasant stench.
What do BMSBs eat?
They are highly invasive and feed on plants - including many fruits and vegetables - and would attack grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus and stone fruit, corn and many other valuable crops warns the Ministry for Primary Industries New Zealand. A Pest Alert has also been issued by the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources listing a number of invasive pests, including the BMSB.
In a recent media release (November 2018) by Biosecurity New Zealand a cargo ship was ordered to leave New Zealand as it contained live and dead regulated stink bugs. The article goes on to report that in February of the same year four bulk carriers were also ordered to turn around when stink bugs were detected.
The cost of an invasion?
If Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are not contained they could pose a huge threat to agricultural markets. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has estimated that it could cost New Zealand $4.2 billion in exports by 2038. Goods from target risk countries that are shipped between 1 September and 30 April are therefore required to be treated with either heat treatment, methyl bromide or sulfuryl fluoride fumigation.
Get expert fumigation services from Rentokil
Rentokil can provide expert fumigation services to treat your commodities, containers, and shipping vessels for brown marmorated stink bugs, Asian gypsy moth and various other invasive pests either at sea, or when they dock in South African ports, according to SA Quarantine and Inspection Services specification.
Find out more by booking a free pest risk survey with our technicians to ensure that your cargo is not quarantined or turned around at its destination. For more insights like these to be sent straight to your inbox Subscribe to our Blog.