New Zealanders urged to be vigilant as stink bug season ramps up

New Zealanders are being asked to keep a lookout for a stinky pest that has the potential to devastate our horticulture and viticulture industries.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is not currently established in New Zealand, but is a major concern to primary industry groups because it can destroy fruit and vegetable crops.

With the high-risk season for pests underway, chair of the BMSB Council, Dr Ed Massey said it was important that any sightings were reported.

"We are asking everyone to look out for this stinky pest as early detection is vital," he said.

"That means spreading the word so that all New Zealanders know what to look for and what to do if they see a BMSB, especially when opening overseas packages and when unpacking after an overseas holiday," said Massey.

The stink bug is one of New Zealand's most unwanted pests.
The stink bug is one of New Zealand's most unwanted pests. Photo credit: File


"If you think you've seen this stink bug, catch it, snap it and report it by calling the Biosecurity New Zealand hotline on 0800 80 99 66."

During the high-risk season, Biosecurity New Zealand had strengthened pre-shipment requirements when importing vehicles, machinery, parts and sea containers from 33 high-risk countries.

"The BMSB Council believes these measures will help to reduce the likelihood of BMSB crossing our borders through these higher risk pathways."

The BMSB Council is a group of industry organisations that partner with Biosecurity New Zealand - through the Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response - to improve New Zealand's readiness for the high priority pest.

Work is also ongoing on the use of the Samurai Wasp to help in the event of an incursion.

The wasp is a poppy seed-sized natural enemy of BMSB which lays its eggs into the stink bug eggs preventing them from hatching.

In August 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted pre-emptive approval - with controls - to release the wasp following a BMSB incursion. 

"The Council has a complex programme underway to make sure a ready supply of wasps is available and we are confident that it could be a key tool to fight these unwanted stink bugs."