Brown marmorated stink bug

Brown marmorated stink bug on a log

Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) [Scientific name: Halyomorpha halys] is an exotic pest that could cause major damage to agricultural crops, nursery stock and ornamental plants if it established in Australia. 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.

This particular bug is a high priority pest, and everyone has a role in keeping it out of Australia. It is well known to stow away in cargo coming out of the northern hemisphere between September and April each year.

The approach rate of BMSB started to increase during the 2017-18 season, and this (2018-19) season has seen a further increase in BMSB detections at our international border.

Post-border detections

There has been a significant number of BMSB detected post-border this season, which runs from September through to April. Post-border detections are where the pest has made its way to Australia and been found at a location which is not under biosecurity control. Eight post-border detections have been referred to state governments under nationally agreed response arrangements.

The eight detections have occurred across Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia on a variety of imported cargo. Both live and dead bugs have been found.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture is working closely with each of the affected state governments. Each detection has seen swift and effective response measures put in place.

The affected goods are subject to biosecurity control and fumigation, and surveillance is now underway to determine that these bugs have been contained.

Queensland

In Queensland there have been three separate detections at Lytton, New Chum and Fisherman’s Island. BMSB was detected on a variety of imported cargo including machinery that had been imported from China.

A residual treatment was applied to the fruiting vegetation at each site. A 12-week surveillance and trapping program has been completed across all three sites. No further BMSB were found.

Fremantle Port, Western Australia

A single BMSB has been found in a commercial area of Bibra Lake which is south-west of Fremantle in Western Australia.

The bug was found in a routine surveillance trap set by the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

Previously in December 2018, a single live BMSB was found in a trap at Fremantle Port. This trap was one of seven, set as part of BMSB surveillance activities which are conducted by the Department of Agriculture.

A residual treatment was applied to a 100 metre buffer zone which includes buildings and vegetation.

DPIRD and the Department of Agriculture have completed a 12-week trapping program at the port, with no further detections to date.

Businesses and residents in North Fremantle should still keep an eye out for BMSB. DPIRD has provided information to the public on what to look for, and how to report any suspect sightings.

Victoria

Agriculture Victoria is responding to BMSB detections at three sites in Victoria. One is in Dandenong South, one at Port Melbourne, and the other is at Clayton.

In early January 2019, a Dandenong South warehouse reported sightings of unusual bugs on imported goods from Italy. A single live BMSB was found inside a warehouse, and is likely to have arrived inside a consignment of terracotta pots. BMSB was confirmed by diagnostic testing on 8 January.

The warehouse and goods were fumigated by the Department of Agriculture on 12-13 January, when another live BMSB was detected. On 14 January, Agriculture Victoria found a live adult male in a trap, approximately 20 metres from the warehouse. Another live adult female was found in a trap just outside the warehouse in a trap on 18 January.

As a precaution, retailers and nursery owners in Victoria who have purchased or received the terracotta pots that were made in Italy, have been issued with a BMSB trap and information to help them identify and report any suspect bugs.

Back in December 2018, a single male BMSB was detected on a mini-bulldozer at a dealership in Clayton, Victoria. On 14 December 2018, another single BMSB was detected near the dealership, in a trap set by Agriculture Victoria.

There have been no further detections at the Clayton site, although surveillance activities will continue.

Due to the detection at Clayton and the bulldozer’s transport route, additional traps were installed at Web Dock and Port Melbourne. In late January 2019, Agriculture Victoria detected a single live male BMSB in one of its traps at Port Melbourne, which was set along the bulldozer’s transport route. The trap was in an olive tree in a public space. There are now 40 traps in place around the Port Melbourne site.

Agriculture Victoria puts a 12-week trapping and surveillance program in place, in a two-kilometre radius around each site where BMSB is detected.

Traps are in place around the areas of Dandenong South, Port Melbourne and Clayton.

On 5 March 19, a single immature female BMSB was detected in a trap set by the Department of Agriculture, at an Approved Arrangement (AA) site in Port Melbourne.

The trap was set on a fence outside of the AA site, with the purpose of assisting Victoria with surveillance within the 2km zone of the initial detection in Port Melbourne. The AA where the trap was set has not imported any goods since 2017.

The Department of Agriculture will not be undertaking any tracing as there is no link to any recently imported goods that can be traced.

Members of the public are asked not to touch or disturb these traps. They are a vital surveillance tool that will help us determine the spread, and control this unwanted and destructive pest. Traps are set a strategic locations where there is vegetation that BMSB is attracted to.

Agriculture Victoria video: Watching out for the brown marmorated stink bug

Help to identify and report BMSB

Everyone has a role in keeping pests and diseases out of Australia.

Importers/stevedores/warehouse workers

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 DAWR to analyse. Phone the See. Secure. Report Hotline on 1800 798 636 or report online. This will put you in touch with the Department of Agriculture which manages the biosecurity of imported goods.

Purchasing goods from overseas

When purchasing goods online from overseas, you need to be aware of BMSB and its potential to arrive as a hitchhiker pest within packages.

Particular attention should be paid to second hand goods or items that may have been in storage for some time. If you receive a package that has live bugs inside, you need to take immediate action.

Re-seal the box or package to prevent further bugs escaping. If bugs have already escaped, try to catch them and put them in a sealed container. If you can, take a clear photo of it. Then immediately call the See. Secure. Report hotline on 1800 798 636. This number will put you in contact with the Department of Agriculture, where you will be advised on what to do next.

Local residents/farmers

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 the Department of Primary Industries or Agriculture in your state or territory.

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.

Watch the NSW DPI brown marmorated stink bug video​.

Preventative action by government

The Department of Agriculture is responsible for Australia’s biosecurity at our international border and manages the risk of BMSB arriving in Australia.

Between 1 September and 30 April, which is the BMSB season, the department puts additional import measures in place for imported sea cargo. These measures apply to specific goods arriving from certain countries, where BMSB is present.

For the 2018-19 season, measures have been applied to high risk vessels and goods, from eight countries in Europe (with a particular focus on Italy) and the USA.

These measures require that:

  • targeted high risk goods receive mandatory treatment for BMSB.
  • goods identified as a risk will be subject to random on shore inspection.
  • high risk break bulk cargo and goods that are not in a six-sided shipping container must be treated off-shore. Only fully containerised cargo has the option of being treated off-shore or on-shore.
  • goods coming from target risk countries must be treated by a provider that is approved by the Department of Agriculture.
  • goods that are subject to a random inspection on arrival - the container’s seal must be intact and the goods must be inspected in the presence of a biosecurity officer.
  • heightened surveillance for cargo vessels and additional pre-arrival reporting for vessel operators, who are required to undertake daily checks of their vessels and cargo for biosecurity risks.
  • Vessels that are reported to have live BMSB on board may be not be able to enter an Australian port, or could be directed back out to sea if they are already here.

The department’s website has more detail on the seasonal measures for BMSB.

When there are BMSB detections, the department works closely with state and territory governments to manage any risk that could see the pest establish in the environment. There are national response arrangements in place for circumstances where BMSB is detected in goods that are outside of the department’s border control.

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.

Appearance

Close up of a brown marmorated stink bug

​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 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.

Trade

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.