Watch out! Stink bug smells like 'coriander on steroids'


Kiwis are being asked to be on high alert for a particularly stinky bug that could be making its way to New Zealand shores.

It's "stink bug season" and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is warning the brown marmorated stink bug will start showing up in imported goods from the northern hemisphere.

The bug is a serious pest to crops, and to noses. Bug expert Ruud Kleinpaste says stink bugs smell like "coriander on steroids".

"[It's a] really weird pungent odour. If you take coriander and you multiply that by ten and you get a stink bug, it really brings a tear to the eye."

Watch out! Stink bug smells like 'coriander on steroids'

A brown marmorated stink bug (MPI)

Mr Kleinpaste says the green vegetable bug, which is found in Auckland, has a similar smell. He says that like stink bugs, the vege bugs excrete the odour as a defence mechanism. This was a lesson his son learnt quickly as a kid.

"When my son was really young, he would go into the garden with me and we would always muck around with bugs."

"He got one of the green vege bugs and put it in his mouth and I will never ever forget the look on his face when the bug let some of its defence secretion into his mouth, he spat it out very quickly!" the entomologist laughs.

But jokes aside, the brown marmorated stink bugs could be devastating for New Zealand crops. MPI says while they will be working hard to stop the bug at the border, they will need help.

"We want anyone that sees a brown marmorated stink bug to catch it and call MPI."

Border staff intercepted 406 brown marmorated stink bugs between January 2015 and April 2016 and Mr Kleinpaste says that is quite a large number.

"All you need is one male and one female in the same place. They will find each other through pheromones."

Watch out! Stink bug smells like 'coriander on steroids'

Mr Kleinpaste also warns there are a number of native New Zealand stink bugs that look very similar but do not harm crops.

He says it is best to call in the professionals and let them decide.

If you think you have seen a brown marmorated stink bug, call MPI on 0800 80 99 66


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