Stink bug approach working

(Photo) Keep NZ Stink Bug Free TMBC banner.

Stink bug approach working

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is one of New Zealand’s most feared crop eating pests. It’s not established in New Zealand but it’s a sneaky pest that we’ve caught at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods.

Up until 20 April, 57 live brown marmorated stink bugs had been intercepted this season – about a quarter of what was found at this time last season. This shows our new management processes have been working. They include additional off-shore treatment requirements for arriving cargo.

Biosecurity New Zealand ran an advertising campaign over the summer months to create awareness and generate reports of potential BMSB incursions. Partnerships included transitional facilities/ports, the travel industry, and horticultural industry groups. TMBC contributed with the large BMSB banner on the Grain Corp tanks on the roads around the port. The campaign resulted in over 1,400 calls to the Biosecurity New Zealand pest and disease hotline, a record number for a BMSB season.

The high-risk season finished on 30 April. However, under Alert Level 3 many more goods are moving again (including out of containers and transitional facilities where they may have been in storage for weeks).

As a result growers and the public are being asked to keep an eye out for stink bugs and other potentially hitchhiking pests (dead or alive) that could have been hiding out in stationary cargo during the lockdown. Everyone is urged to call Biosecurity New Zealand’s pest-and-diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66 if they see anything like it.

“Early detection is also a real challenge. There are no silver bullets and the team is doing its best with the range of tools available. Promoting public awareness is critical as the more sets of eyes we have looking for BMSB and reporting any finds, the better,” says Rory MacLellan from Biosecurity New Zealand’s Surveillance and Incursion Investigation Team.

Surveillance plays a major role in early detection. A new targeted BMSB surveillance programme builds on a surveillance scheme that was piloted by Biosecurity New Zealand in 2018-19 and is jointly funded by industry bodies on the BMSB Council.

Traps for the detection of BMSB have been installed at 80 sites considered to be high risk for BMSB and will maximise the likelihood of finding these pests if they are there. These sites were selected based on previous BMSB detections over the past five years, as well as being in areas where large volumes of cargo arrives from countries where this stink bug is known to be present.

There are two traps at each site that use an attractant lure and a sticky card to draw the BMSB into the vicinity of the trap.

The BMSB post border national targeted surveillance programme aligns well with research being conducted by Plant and Food Research (PFR) on refining the use of BMSB surveillance tools (lures, traps and inspection techniques). To benefit this research Biosecurity New Zealand and PFR have agreed to use the same inspection protocols and data collection techniques so that all the data can be combined. Traps and the surrounding vegetation are inspected for all BMSB life stages every two weeks for a 24 week period, beginning mid-November until the end of May.

“While these traps won’t guarantee early detection of BMSB should it enter New Zealand – they will increase our chances of detecting it early enough, that we will have a chance of doing something about it,” says Rory.

Remember it takes all of us to protect what we’ve got, so if you see any suspicious bugs (particular those that look like a BMSB), call the pest and disease hotline 0800 80 99 66. Click here for more information on BMSB.