Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says activities to prevent the establishment of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) have ramped up over summer and helped raise public awareness of what is a serious biosecurity threat.
“This is a major agricultural pest worldwide, as well as a household nuisance. While it is found here from time to time, if it became established it would have significant economic and social impacts,” says Mr Guy.
“BMSB has been rapidly spreading across the world and there have been increasingly more finds detected at the New Zealand border. Three confirmed post border finds occurred during February, all reported by members of the public.
“I applaud those members of the public who notified MPI of the suspected finds and enabled the Ministry to urgently investigate. Their actions are a great example of what we are seeking to achieve through the 2025 Biosecurity Direction Statement in having a biosecurity team of 4.7 million people.
“As a result of the finds MPI stepped up a local response in each case involving laboratory testing, site inspections and deploying surveillance traps. Thankfully none of the finds were part of an established population of stink bugs in the area.
“Other work underway includes detector dog training, research on the effectiveness of lures, obtaining approval for chemical sprays and public awareness advertising and campaigns.
“There is also mandatory treatments of vehicle and machinery pathways, and targeted verification inspections on sea containers. MPI will soon be visiting European exporters of high risk cargo and working with them to mitigate these risks.
“Proactive campaigns over summer have included radio and facebook advertising and even ads on screens at service stations near ports so people continue to report any sightings to MPI on 0800 80 99 66. The recent reports from members of the public are evidence these campaigns are working.
“MPI is also now investigating the potential use of parasitical ‘samurai’ wasps, and an application to the Environmental Protection Agency is planned for later this year.
“Biosecurity is a shared responsibility for all New Zealanders, so it is pleasing to have industry and the wider public helping out. MPI is working closely with industry partners to the Government-Industry Agreement for biosecurity on this issue.
“The Government’s investment into Biosecurity is at a record high of $224 million which has helped employ new staff, new dog teams and new x-ray machines. We also have the new border clearance levy, a new inflight video for international passengers, and an $87 million biocontainment laboratory under construction at Wallaceville.
“The recently released Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement is also setting a future direction with a vision of a biosecurity team of 4.7 million people.”
BMSB feeds on a wide variety of valuable crops like grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus and stone fruit, and emit a pungent odour when squashed. Once established they can be hard to kill.
BMSB is native to Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. There are established populations in the USA, Canada, and a number of European countries, including Italy.
More information is available at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/brown-marmorated-stink-bug/