New treatment requirements for imported vehicles and machinery from the United States will help keep brown marmorated stink bug out of New Zealand, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Under the new rules, all new and used cars, trucks, machinery, boats and parts imported from the United States must be heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide before being shipped to New Zealand.
“In the past, we did not require mandatory treatment prior to shipping from the United States. Instead new vehicles were assessed on arrival by quarantine officers and only those that were considered to be high risk were treated on arrival,” says Paul Hallett, MPI Biosecurity and Environment Manager.
“We’ve been ramping up our efforts to combat brown marmorated stink bug, but the main driver for the strong new rules has been the recent frequent discoveries of stink bug infestations in new vehicles and machinery consignments from the United States.”
He says there may be a delay before suitable treatment facilities are established in the United States. As an interim measure, MPI is working with industry to help them establish treatment options for vessels on the water before landing and, as a last resort, on the wharf at Auckland once landed.
“We are working closely with importers and treatment suppliers to ensure imported vehicles can receive biosecurity clearance where possible, although, if there are no suitable decontamination options, non-compliant vehicles may have to be turned away.”
Brown marmorated stink bug is an agricultural pest found in Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea. It has aggressively invaded the United States and could successfully establish in New Zealand.
The bug is a voracious feeder. Almost any crop can be at risk, including citrus, apples, stonefruits, pears, berries, grapes, asparagus, soybeans, corn, honeysuckle, maple, butterfly bush, cypress, hibiscus and roses. The bug severely disfigures fruits and renders them unmarketable, resulting in control costs and production impacts.
In winter, the bugs seek warm sheltered areas that results in adults gathering in high numbers on outer surfaces of homes and indoors. When disturbed or threatened, they release a pungent odour that is a nuisance to people in residential areas.
They are known to contaminate food, stain walls and furnishings and therefore could have significant social impact. However, they pose no direct human or animal health risks
MPI is currently running an awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of the pest and encouraging any sighting to be reported to its pest and disease hotline – 0800 80 99 66.