Stink bug measures show results
Strict biosecurity requirements for imported cargo have reduced the threat of brown marmorated stink bug and even tougher rules will be introduced next season.
There were 57 interceptions of live brown marmorated stink bug during the 2019/20 season (September to April) – a reduction of 73% from the previous season. Of these, 28 were detected at the border. The others were largely individual hitchhikers detected after the border with personal effects carried by arriving international passengers.
"The reduction shows the success of introducing offshore treatment requirements to ensure high-risk goods arrive clean from countries with established populations of this destructive pest," says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett.
The import rules targeted vehicles, machinery, and parts from 33 identified risk countries, and all sea containers from Italy during the stink bug season.
Biosecurity New Zealand worked closely with Australian officials during the season to develop the offshore treatment programme and to ensure overseas-based facilities met biosecurity requirements.
"We are very grateful to the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment for undertaking a large part of the administrative work involved with running this programme.
"There will be more collaboration with Australia in the lead-up to next season, particularly around what we can do to ensure cargo arrives stink bug-free from European treatment providers. Many are operating with reduced staff as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Mr Hallett says Biosecurity New Zealand is looking at adding 3 new countries to the list of those requiring special measures to send vehicles, machinery, and parts to New Zealand.
"Officials are also consulting with industry on plans to extend the current treatment requirements for sea containers from Italy to cover at least another 2 stink bug seasons."
He says Biosecurity New Zealand will continue to operate rigorous border checks and post-border surveillance to intercept any hitchhiking bugs.
"During the last season, Biosecurity New Zealand worked with industry to develop a sophisticated surveillance programme that increased the number of stink bug trapping sites from 25 to 80. Biosecurity New Zealand and industry also jointly funded a public awareness campaign that attracted a record number of calls about possible sightings."
Brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive plant pest that has spread to the United States and Europe from Asia.