Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is an exotic pest that could cause major damage to agricultural crops, nursery stock and ornamental plants. It’s also a nuisance because it seeks shelter in large numbers in buildings and equipment during the winter months. It has a foul smelling odour when disturbed.
Brown marmorated stink bug was detected in imported cargo at two sites in Western Sydney and at a commercial premise in Perth.
These three detections occurred whilst unpacking goods that were recently imported from Italy.
The first detection occurred at Glendenning in Western Sydney in November 2017, when dead and live brown marmorated stink bugs were found in electrical equipment.
The second detection occurred in January 2018 when pallets of bricks were being unpacked from a shipping container at Horsley Park.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries conducted a trapping and surveillance program at both sites which included the deployment and weekly inspection of 182 traps, and a public awareness campaign. Following these activities, no further brown marmorated stink bugs have been found.
The National Management Group has agreed that the pest has been eradicated from Glendenning, and that there is no evidence that it has established within the trapping and surveillance areas of Horsley Park. Therefore, official ’proof of freedom’ from this pest has been achieved.
The most recent incident occurred in Perth in February 2018 when a container of electrical components from Italy was unpacked at a commercial establishment. A large number of dead and live brown marmorated stink bugs were found.
The bugs were reported quickly to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and swift action was taken to secure the goods and the container. The department treated the infested goods, the container, and the warehouse was also fumigated.
The Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) set traps within the vicinity of the premises, and these continue to be checked on a regular basis There have been no further detections to date.
Brown marmorated stink bug is a high priority pest which seeks out a place to hide over winter, often congregating in items where they are sheltered. For this reason, they are well known to stow away in cargo coming out of the northern hemisphere between September and April each year.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has robust import conditions in place for goods arriving from countries where brown marmorated stink bug is present.
Every year the department reviews the import conditions in time for the brown marmorated stink bug season which begins in September.
In previous years they have mostly been associated with goods from Asia and break bulk cargo arriving from the USA. Break bulk cargo are items like vehicles and machinery that cannot be transported in a container.
In addition to the measures in place for the USA and Asia, the department put in place new measures because of the bug establishing in Italy. The import measures were further strengthened in January 2018. See the department’s Import Industry Advice Notices 2018 for more information.
Biosecurity and reporting
Anyone who works around or receives imported goods should always keep an eye out for pests. The brown marmorated stink bug and other pests stow away inside or attached to the outside of shipping containers, and they can be found within the goods in the container, including boxes and packaging. They also seek shelter in vehicles and machinery.
The brown marmorated stink bug has the ability to survive by remaining dormant while in transit.
If you notice any bugs or other pests, don’t remove the contents of the container, shut the doors and don’t allow the container to be moved.
Collect any live or dead specimens and keep them in a secure container for the department to analyse.
Phone the See. Secure. Report Hotline on 1800 798 636 or report online. This will put you in touch with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources which manages the biosecurity of imported goods.
If you think you have seen brown marmorated stink bugs on your property or in public places, phone the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. This will put you in touch with your local Department of Primary Industries or Agriculture.
The brown marmorated stink bug looks similar to native Australian stink bugs but it is larger. The white bands on its antennae are a distinguishing feature.
About brown marmorated stink bug
Brown marmorated stink bug is a significant threat to agriculture due to its wide host range and the damage it can do to vegetable crops and fruit and ornamental trees. It is known to feed on more than 300 hosts, including agricultural crops such as nuts, grains, berries, cotton, citrus, soybean and some ornamental and weed plant species.
While feeding, the bug’s saliva causes significant damage to plant tissues.
The bug is not a risk to human health but it is regarded as a nuisance pest because it seeks sheltered places to overwinter such as inside homes, vehicles, machinery or sheds, often in large numbers.
The brown marmorated stink bug is a pest that opportunistically uses cargo containers and freight vehicles to hitchhike across country and overseas. The bug’s capability to hitchhike and fly, and feed on a wide range of plant hosts, enables it to rapidly spread into new territories.
Brown marmorated stink bug adults range in length between 12-17 mm. They are mottled brown in colour, and have a shield-shaped appearance.
There are five nymph stages that range from less than 3 mm to 12 mm long. The nymphs are orange and black when they first hatch but quickly develop a similar colouration to the adults. The juvenile, or nymphal stages, cause the most damage.
Eggs are cream to yellow-orange and approximately 1.6 mm long and laid in clusters on the underside of leaves.
They can be confused with a number of other brown coloured stinkbugs that are present in Australia. There is a comprehensive identification guide on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
Brown marmorated stink bug is native to eastern Asia (China, Japan and Taiwan) but was introduced to North America in the mid-1990s and more recently to Europe, where it is rapidly becoming a serious pest.
The brown marmorated stink bug is unlikely to be associated with commercial fruit because it is a large active insect that would be readily disturbed by harvest and packing processes.
This bug is well established in many regions of the world including China, Europe and the USA, where it is not considered to be a quarantine pest.