Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is a major threat to the New Zealand economy and the public. It's high on horticulture's most unwanted list, plant production included.
It's in Asia and Europe, and has aggressively invaded the USA, where its caused millions of dollars of crop damage – rapidly rendering fruit and other produce unsaleable for example. It’s a tremendous public nuisance too, readily invading houses in cooler conditions.
In winter the stink bug hibernates in sheltered spaces; in buildings and vehicles for example. Thus cargo, containers, vehicle imports, personal luggage and mail are risk pathways for entry into New Zealand, especially during our spring to autumn seasons.
If you've purchased goods that have been recently sourced from Europe, Asia and the US, please check for any sign of BMSB hibernation. This includes personal goods such as items purchased over the internet - see MPI's web-page and fact sheet.
If you find one, or suspect you've found one, catch it, photograph it and call MPI’s Exotic Pests and Diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66.
New Zealand is on high alert to stop the invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) from making a home in New Zealand. The stink bug season for us runs from September to April – the autumn and winter months in the northern hemisphere. That’s when the bug starts aggregating in dark sheltered places, including cargo, and MPI has stepped up its efforts to keep this pest out of New Zealand - or detect it early should it get here. This is in response to the insect emerging as a serious horticultural pest in the United States.
BMSB is native to Asia and has aggressively invaded the United States and has now been found in Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France. At present it is regarded by the New Zealand horticulture industry as one of the top six pests of concern.
BMSB feeds on more than 300 hosts, primarily fruit trees and woody ornamentals but also field crops. Almost any crop can be at risk, including: citrus; pipfruit; stonefruit; berries and grapes; asparagus; soybeans; sweet corn and maize; honeysuckle; maple; butterfly bush; cypress, hibiscus; and roses.
In its native habitat of East Asia, BMSB is a pest of fruit trees and soybeans. It feeds by sucking plant juices. Adults generally feed on mature and immature fruit, while nymphs feed on leaves and stems as well as fruit. It severely disfigures fruit and renders it unmarketable, which results in control costs and production losses. BMSB damage to woody ornamentals and forest trees has been reported as cosmetic - enough though to impact gardne retail and home gardens.
In the US, BMSB has been primarily reported as a household nuisance and ornamental pest, but it has also caused economic losses in tree fruit and soybeans.
In a study of populations at farms in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, BMSB caused about 25 percent premature fruit drop. Its piercing/sucking action causes necrotic spots on fruit and leaf surfaces that may then be compounded by secondary infection and scarring as the fruit matures. In particular, apples are often pitted and discoloured, and peaches frequently display a distinctive distortion called ‘catfacing’.
Aggregations of adult BMSB overwintering in buildings and houses can be a nuisance, as when disturbed or crushed they emit a characteristic, unpleasant, long-lasting odour (although this does not pose any health threat).
BMSB is a strong flier and highly mobile pest. Once established, it can spread quickly over long distances through movement of host plants, goods and vehicles.
Establishment of BMSB depends on favourable temperatures for survival at the time of introduction of an egg mass, or males and females, or even a single gravid female. New Zealand's climate is ideal!
Chemical treatments in the USA so far are limited, but there has been good progress in research into trap-and-kill techniques. Contact with these researchers is enabling MPI to keep abreast of the best available research.
BMSB is thought to have invaded the US in shipping containers. Because the adults hide in cracks and crevices during winter months, they can spread in all kinds of cargo, including personal effects and housewares. Risk countries of origin include the US, China, Japan and Korea. BMSB is also associated with imported dunnage, wooden boxes or containers.
Identification of BMSB by molecular and morphological means is available in New Zealand and any incursions are likely to be detected by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ targeted High Risk Site Surveillance (HRSS) programme.
Good phytosanitary measures are the best way to prevent introductions, and early detection through surveillance is the key to eradication before the pest can become established.
MPI is currently trialling 50 traps in high risk areas to determine the feasibility of integrating pheromone lures for BMSB into its existing trapping programmes. Border and transitional facilities have also been put on alert for BMSB.
Strict biosecurity requirements on imports, checks at the border, surveillance programmes, and capability to respond to a pest incursion, all work together to help prevent known pests such as the brown marmorated stink bug establishing in New Zealand. Although we can never have a 100 percent guarantee or zero risk, this approach has kept New Zealand free of many of the worlds’ worst pest problems.
MPI's BMSB web-page
MPI's BMSB fact sheet
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
If you find one of these catch it and call it in on 0800 80 99 66.
If possible photograph and/or collect samples.
Travellers and those receiving mail from overseas: Please make sure you open luggage and mail from overseas in an enclosed space to contain any hitch-hiking pests.
You can identify a BMSB by the following:
In this video, Ruud 'Bug Man' Kleinpaste explains why brown marmorated stink bugs will be so bad for New Zealand if they get established.