Stowaway Stinkbugs

Coming just a few weeks after the Stink Bug season for 2016/2017 was declared over, a discovery has been made!

A stinky spectre from America is assailing Australia’s biosecurity borders – it’s the brown marmorated stink bug, or Halyomorpha halys.

Biosecurity officers found six of these exotic pests in a consignment of timber shipped from the US that arrived in Port Adelaide earlier this month.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources head of Biosecurity Lyn O’Connell said the stinky pest originated in eastern Asia and had recently invaded North America and parts of Europe where it had a significant impact on agriculture.

“If it established in Australia, the brown marmorated stink bug would be extremely difficult and expensive to manage due to its broad host range of over 300 different plant species including berries, cotton, hazelnuts, pecans, truffles and potentially walnuts and could seriously harm our $9.13 billion horticulture sector,” Ms O’Connell said.

“These highly invasive pests have a tendency to amass on shipping containers, motor vehicles, machinery, boats and other large items that get loaded on vessels. It is also a strong flier, able to cover distances of up to 2km.”

The biosecurity chief continued, saying the pernicious pests posed a high biosecurity risk to Australia because they tended to hitchhike and were highly mobile.

“Preventing an incursion in the first place is a high priority for government and industry, and the biosecurity officers involved did excellent work in detecting these tiny five cent piece-sized insects in the large container of white oak staves, packed in the US,” Ms O’Connell said.

She called on port workers to watch out for these diminutive, invasive critters.

“By keeping an eye out when unloading vessels and moving cargo through to its destination, stevedores, truck drivers and other port staff help protect Australia from a range of harmful pests and diseases not present here,” she said.

The bug looks similar to our native Australian stink bugs; the evil, brown marmorated variety is mottle brown coloured and shield shape.

But, the foreign pest has distinctive black and white banding around the outer edge of the abdomen, and white bands on the last two antennal segments.

The Department has also published a guide to identifying the brown marmorated stink bug and other pests.

If you suspect you have found one of these pests, or any other exotic invaders, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources urges you to call 1800 084 881.