Biosecurity New Zealand is ramping up a public awareness campaign to encourage people to report possible sightings of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) – a major threat to Aotearoa New Zealand’s horticulture industry.
BMSB infests several horticultural crops, causing damage to flowers, stems, leaves and fruit of host plants. Significant crops likely to be affected in New Zealand include apples, corn, wine grapes, kiwifruit, and a range of stone fruit varieties.
Funded jointly by Biosecurity New Zealand and industry members of the BMSB Council, the summer campaign will run from November to March, targeting local gardeners and online shoppers who receive goods from overseas.
Biosecurity New Zealand is well prepared for the high-risk season, says Stuart Anderson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s deputy director-general.
"There is ongoing monitoring of the threat posed by countries that have known BMSB populations. Officers target passengers, craft and goods that could be contaminated with BMSB.
"Our BMSB measures have been very effective to date. There continues to be no evidence of any established BMSB population in New Zealand.
"We ask international travellers to be understanding of the need to protect New Zealand and our economy as they get their bags checked or are required to answer questions from our frontline staff."
He says the recent detection of 2 live BMSB at Auckland Airport demonstrates the importance of strong biosecurity controls.
A Biosecurity New Zealand quarantine officer detected a single live BMSB at an airport search bench on 8 October while processing passengers arriving from the United States.
The second bug was recently found on an aircraft from South Korea prior to passengers leaving the plane. Officers have detected a further 286 dead BMSB on arriving vessels and cargo.
Mr Anderson says the number of live interceptions has dropped considerably over the last few years.
"This is largely due to the introduction of strict import rules that make it harder for live BMSB to enter New Zealand on risky cargo such as vehicles, machinery and parts.
"Improved reporting and monitoring have also allowed officers to better target risk goods. For example, there was a greater focus on air cargo during the 2021/22 season following increased BMSB detections in this pathway.
"We have also seen high levels of engagement from the shipping industry in the past and want this positive relationship to continue. Accurate reporting of detections by crew helps Biosecurity New Zealand target its surveillance and other actions."
Anyone who thinks they've found BMSB is asked to catch it, snap it (take a photo), and report it. The find can be reported online or via Biosecurity New Zealand’s hotline – 0800 80 99 66.