By Verity Forbes, Biosecurity Technical Advisor in Nelson
DOC is helping the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) keep the nasty brown marmorated stink bug out of New Zealand.
The stink bug could cause massive damage to the economy, be of considerable nuisance to residents and has the potential to be a significant pest to conservation too.
When MPI informed DOC about this bug that they are fending off at the border, DOC did an assessment exercise to see if our native plants were at risk from this bug.
We found that 29 of its recorded host plant families have New Zealand relatives! To put this into perspective, the great white butterfly eradication programme in Nelson/Tasman is based on the impacts to just one plant family.
This stink bug is native to Asia and has aggressively invaded the United States and has now been found in Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Italy and France.
It’s almost winter in the Northern Hemisphere, which is when these bugs collect in huge numbers and take cover in nooks and crevices—anywhere that provides shelter.
Containers and packages, particularly from the USA where populations of this bug have recently exploded, are perfect hiding holes.
I am working alongside MPI on the development of an ‘action plan’ to prevent this bug entering New Zealand. Soon you’ll be seeing giant digital stink bugs at New Zealand’s international airport terminals to remind travellers to look out for this nasty pest.
In New Zealand we know of six indigenous stink bugs and some of them look similar to the brown marmorated stink bug.
If you see a bug that looks like this, catch it and call MPI on 0800 80 99 66. There are no consequences if it’s a harmless indigenous bug, but there are huge consequences if it’s a brown marmorated stink bug. It definitely pays to be cautious.
More information about the brown marmorated stink bug can be found on the MPI website.