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.

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 Australian Government Department of Agriculture is responsible for Australia’s biosecurity at our international border and manages the risk of BMSB arriving in Australia.
  • In response to the rapid expansion of BMSB throughout Europe and North America, seasonal measures have been strengthened to manage risk of BMSB from arriving in Australia in the 2019–20 BMSB risk season.
  • For the 2019-20 BMSB risk season, heightened biosecurity measures will apply to:
    • certain goods manufactured in, or shipped from target risk countries, and/or
    • vessels that berth at, load or tranship from target risk countries from 1 September 2019 and that arrive in Australian territory by 31 May 2020.
  • Goods shipped between 1 September and 30 April need to be treated, and will be referred for intervention if they arrive by 31 May 2020. For goods that are shipped prior to 30 April and arrive after 31 May, they may be subject to intervention as required.
  • The measures for the 2019-20 BMSB risk season applies to an increased range of target risk countries, from 10 to 33 countries.
  • In addition to the measures for mandatory treatment of target high risk goods and increased onshore intervention of target risk goods from target risk countries, the department will also be undertaking a lower rate of random onshore inspections from identified emerging risk countries.
  • Goods emerging from risk countries may be selected for a random onshore inspection.
  • Roll on roll off vessels from target risk countries will be subject to a mandatory seasonal pest inspection. 
  • Industry has been engaged to ensure awareness of the measures before the commencement of the season. Face to face industry information sessions and webinars have been conducted, along with updated web content, dedicated workshops, factsheets and meetings with peak industry bodies.

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.