W.A. Biosecurity Alert

Brown marmorated stink bug detection at Fremantle port

We are asking businesses and residents in North Fremantle to help with surveillance for Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), following detection of a single live BMSB in a trap at Fremantle Port. This serious pest is not established in Australia, and efforts need to be taken to ensure there are no further BMSB in the area, to prevent potential spread.

The trap is one of 14 that are part of BMSB surveillance activities being undertaken by the Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR). The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is working closely with DAWR to put in place swift and effective response measures.

The affected goods were fumigated and DPIRD has commenced a 12 week trapping program to determine whether the pest has spread. A total of 49 traps have been deployed with no further detections to date. A residual treatment has also been applied to a 100 metre buffer zone which includes buildings and vegetation.

Potential impact

BMSB needs to be kept out of Australia,as it causes major damage to fruit and vegetable crops and ornamental plants. It feeds on a wide range of more than 300 plant species and its saliva causes significant damage to plant tissues and to fruit and seed production, reducing both yield and marketability.

If present on fruits produced for juice extraction, such as grapes or citrus, the insect may taint the entire batch of juice with a bad taste and smell, making it unsuitable for sale. Once established in a cropping situation, effective control is difficult.

BMSB is not a risk to human health, but can be a nuisance, with up to thousands of bugs entering vehicles, homes and factories for shelter over winter. It has a foul smelling odour when crushed or disturbed. The bug’s ability to hitchhike, fly and feed on a wide range of plant hosts enables it to spread rapidly when it is introduced to new areas.

Look and report

North Fremantle area

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ANYONE living in this area should look out for BMSB and immediately report any suspect sightings to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development on 9368 3080. This includes port workers, local businesses and residents.

You can also take a photo and send using MyPestGuide™ Reporter (download the app or make online report) or emailing padis@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Port workers / warehouse workers / transporters / importers

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We need anyone who works around or receives imported goods to look for BMSB to look and report. This not only includes port workers, but anyone working in and around freight, transport, warehouses and industrial areas. If you see something take immediate action, and call the See. Secure. Report hotline on 1800 798 636.

  • Don’t remove the contents of the container. Shut the doors and reseal.
  • Don’t allow the container to be moved – especially to an area outside if it’s in a warehouse.
  • Collect any dead or live specimens so our entomologists can confirm the species.
  • Any live bugs should be held in a container that prevents them from escaping.

BMSB will stow away inside shipping containers, and they can be found within the goods in the container, including boxes and packaging. They also seek shelter in break bulk cargo including vehicles and machinery.

Businesses that deal with imported goods that are typically stored outside should be particularly vigilant, to prevent spread of BMSB into outdoor areas. These include:

  • Car dealerships or distribution centres that receive vehicles and machinery once clear at the border.
  • Agriculture machinery and equipment distributors.
  • Building suppliers.
  • Garden product suppliers (those that sell pots, garden ornaments and equipment).
  • Tile and ceramic distributors.
  • Distributors of imported electrical goods and components.
  • Other businesses that are in receipt of imported goods, particularly from Italy.

Purchasing goods from overseas

Anyone who purchases goods online from overseas needs 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 and immediately make a report to the See. Secure. Report hotline on 1800 798 636.

Growers and gardeners

Look out for BMSB in your crop or backyard. The most effective way to detect BMSB is by visually inspecting host plants. They are large bugs that emit a foul odour when disturbed. They are attracted to light and may be found in spider webs.

If you find something, contact the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development:

How is it getting here?

BMSB are an increasing threat due to the spread of the pest in Europe, particularly Italy, and their tendency to hitchhike in shipping containers coming from Europe, the United States and some Asian countries.

BMSB are highly mobile and during the colder months in the northern hemisphere (between September and April) it is common for BMSB to take shelter in cargo, as well as vehicles and machinery.

It has the ability to survive for long periods in cargo by remaining dormant. They can be found within the goods in the container, including boxes and packaging.

In 2017-18 there was an increase in BMSB detections around the country, which included a detection in Jandakot in Perth and in New South Wales. In 2018-19, in addition to WA, there have been a number of detections in the eastern states on a variety of imported cargo. Both live and dead bugs have been found.

Federal import measures

The Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) is responsible for Australia’s biosecurity at our international border and manages the risk of BMSB arriving in Australia. To address the emerging risk of BMSB, stringent response measures are in place, which are reviewed each year.

2018-19 import measures are outlined below, and apply for the period between 1 September 2018 and 30 April 2019. They apply to specific sea cargo arriving from France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Russia and the United States, where we know BMSB is present.

Measures include:

  1. Targeted high risk goods receive mandatory treatment for BMSB.
  2. Goods identified as a risk will be subject to random on shore inspection.
  3. High risk break bulk cargo and goods that are not in a six-sided shipping container must be treated off-shore. Only fully containerised cargo has the option of being treated off-shore or on-shore.
  4. Goods coming from target risk countries must be treated by a provider that is approved by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
  5. Where goods are subject to a random inspection on arrival, the container’s seal must be intact and the goods must be inspected in the presence of a biosecurity officer.
  6. Heightened surveillance for cargo vessels and additional pre-arrival reporting for vessel operators, who are required to undertake daily checks of their vessels and cargo for biosecurity risks.
  7. Vessels that are reported to have live BMSB on board may not be able to enter an Australian port, or could be directed back out to sea if they are already here.

Visit the DAWR web pages to learn more about these measures, including extensive information on target high risk goods and countries, treatment options and providers, import requirements and forms, approved arrangement sites and container management.

About brown marmorated stink bug

BMSB can be confused with a number of other brown coloured stinkbugs that are present in Australia, but have the below distinctive features.

  • BMSB are larger than other stink bugs (12–17mm long).
  • They emit a foul odour when disturbed.
  • They are mottle brown coloured, shield shaped, and have five nymph stages that range from less than 3mm to 12mm long.
  • The white bands on its antennae are a distinguishing feature, along with distinctive black and white banding around the outer edge of the abdomen.
  • Look for unusual aggregations of stink bugs in or on buildings once the weather cools down.
  • They are attracted to light, and may be found in areas that are well lit at night.

See our website for comprehensive identification information. If you UNSURE, report it anyway.

More information

Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources – Seasonal import measures for BMSB