The discovery of the destructive exotic pest Brown marmorated stink bug in a Sydney warehouse last week has triggered a surveillance operation and a call for local residents to keep an eye out for the bug.
Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is not currently found in Australia and poses a serious risk to agricultural industries because it is highly voracious, eats a wide range of plants and can cause severe damage to fruit trees and vegetable crops. Apples and peaches are among its preferred plants.
The insects were found at a warehouse in a container that had arrived from Italy, and the container and warehouse have been fumigated. An exotic pest alert was issued and a search of surrounding areas for any escapees is underway.
The 2017-18 season is the first in which goods from Italy have been actively targeted under seasonal biosecurity measures after it was identified as a primary pathway for BMSB alongside the US, where it is widespread and was estimated to cause $37m damage to mid Atlantic apple crops in 2010.
NSW Department of Primary Industries, Director Plant Biosecurity and Product Integrity Dr Satendra Kumar said NSW DPI is leading the response with Greater Sydney Local Land Services and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
“People can help us look for Brown marmorated stink bugs by visually inspecting plants in their gardens,” he said. “They are large bugs that can give off an unpleasant odour when disturbed.”
People living and visiting the Glendenning area of western Sydney have been asked to keep an eye out for the bug.
BSMB were first detected in large numbers in 2014-15 in vehicles and machinery shipped to Australia from the United States. Emergency response measures were put in place at that time, and are reviewed annually.
In 2016-17 DAFWA reported the following detections:
US Origin – 13 detections, 7 live bugs, 21 dead
European origin – 16 detections, 41 live, 87 dead
Asian origin – 5 detections, 2 live, 3 dead
There are a number of Australian native stink bugs which are similar to BMSB. However, the distinct features of adult BMSB are the white bands on the antennae, sides of the abdomen and on the legs.
“The adult Brown marmorated stink bug is approximately 12 to 17 mm long and 7 to 10 mm wide – similar in size to a five cent piece.
“Brown marmorated stink bug can be variable in colour, but generally have a mottled brown coloured body with alternating light and dark bands on the antennae, legs and the side margins of the abdomen.
“Brown marmorated stink bug feeds on a wide range of fruiting plants including ornamentals and vegetables. Preferred plants include apples, peaches, raspberries, sweet corn, green beans, capsicums and tomatoes.”
What you can do
If you think you have found a Brown marmorated stink bug, catch it in a container and call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
Clear photos can be emailed with a brief explanation of where you found it and your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org