Brown marmorated stink bug
MPI needs your help to keep watch for the brown marmorated stink bug, which could attack a wide range of New Zealand crops and infest local homes.
The brown marmorated stink bug has spread to the United States and Europe from Asia. It's not established in New Zealand but it's a sneaky pest that we've caught at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods.
So far we've managed to stop it settling here, but we need your help. They're hard to see, hard to kill, travel far and they breed fast.
Risk to New Zealand
These bugs could be a damaging economic pest and a significant household nuisance.
Crops and gardens could be devastated
Known to feed heavily on a wide variety of plant species, stink bugs would attack grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus and stone fruit, corn and many other valuable crops.
Homes could be infested
Over winter, bugs gather in large numbers in homes, where they're an unsightly and smelly nuisance. They can't be easily treated with insecticides and they emit a pungent odour when squashed, making them hard to remove.
Video – Join the hunt (2.35)
In this video, Ruud 'Bug Man' Kleinpaste explains why brown marmorated stink bugs will be so bad for New Zealand if they get established.
[Ruud, walking through an orchard]
Don't you just love summer? Fruit season!
[Ruud points to apples on tree]
Look at these beauties.
Grown in New Zealand for Kiwis to eat, and to be exported right around the world as part of our horticulture industry. [Video of containers going on ships]
But imagine one bug, one bug that could spoil all this?
[Ruud holds up a specimen of a bug]
Well this is it.
This is a pinned specimen of the brown marmorated stink bug and this guy is in the top 5 of totally unwanted bugs in New Zealand.
[Close up of Stink Bug]
And why don't we want it? Because it sucks, it eats, it spoils and it's greedy and certainly isn't picky!
[Images of fruits]
Grapes, citrus, stone fruit, corn, a whole range of vegetables – you name it, it'll eat it!
[Images and video of brown marmorated stink bugs]
So it could do massive damage to our fruit and vegie industries as well as the stuff you are growing in your backyard.
Imagine picking an apple that looks like this.
[Image of apple chewed damaged by Brown Marmorated Stink Bug]
Ah but that's not all. They’re also a bug nightmare.
You see, over winter when it gets cold, they look for nice warm home to invade… in their thousands.
[Image of home owners sweeping stink bugs off their porch into a bucket]
[Video of brown marmorated stink bugs]
You can't spray them, you can't squash them because they smell…Smell?
[Ruud holding his nose]
They stink!! Think sweaty socks!
All through your house! Pooey!!
[Ruud, walking through orchard]
So, what can we do? Well this stinky pest isn't in New Zealand yet, and MPI and
[Video of biosecurity officers inspecting a container, and X-ray officer at airport]
the eagle-eyed biosecurity officers sure want to keep it that way …but they're going to need your help.
[Video of We want you to look in your garden]
On your trees, on fruit and flowers, your vegetables, anywhere in your garden.
And look for these stinky pests.
[Ruud holds up a glass box full of bug specimens]
Now the brown marmorated stink bugs are not that difficult to identify.
[Images of green vegetable bug, brown soldier bug and brown marmorated stink bug all lined up in comparison to $1 coin]
In general their shape is like the green vegetable bug and brown soldier bugs you find in your garden… but the stink bugs are a lot bigger.
[Close up shot of brown marmorated stink bug showing the distinctive markings to look for]
Look at the black and white banding on the antennae and the black and white markings on the abdomen.
And of course their size. Oh… and then there's their smell.
[Close up of Ruud]
You'll never forget that smell.
[Video of people in field and someone looking in tomato plant and lettuce]
Go on the look out for those stinky marmorated stink bugs, and if you find one,
[Close up on Ruud]
catch it, and call MPI's pest line on 0800 80 99 66.
[Ruud points to the camera]
[End of transcript]
Where in New Zealand?
Brown marmorated stink bugs thrive in cool climates, making them a threat up and down the country.
What's being done?
MPI has developed new import regulations to provide extra protection against this bug.
- Vehicles and machinery from the USA must now be heat-treated or fumigated with methyl bromide before coming to New Zealand
- New import standards are being developed for all vehicles, machinery and tyres from all countries
Ready to respond
Brown marmorated stink bugs spread fast, so we'll need to act quickly to get rid of them if they arrive. That can only happen if we spot an invasion as soon as possible. MPI is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on the lookout.
- City horticulturists and gardeners have been asked to keep watch because bugs that come through airports or seaports would attack their crops first.
- Travellers are reminded to check their luggage on return to New Zealand to make sure they haven't brought the bug with them.
- People importing goods from overseas – including internet shoppers – are also encouraged to check their packages.
MPI is running advertisements and distributing leaflets with pictures of the bug to help home gardeners and the wider public identify it. Everyone is urged to call our pest-and-diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66 if they see anything like it.
What you can do
Keep watch for these bugs. If you think you’ve found one – catch it and call us immediately on 0800 80 99 66.
What does it look like?
Adults are about the size of a $1 coin and have:
- white banding on the antennae
- alternate black and white markings on the abdomen
- eggs that are light green, barrel shaped, and found in clusters of 20-30.
Our factsheet will help you identify the bug and differentiate it from similar local species.
Download MPI's brown marmorated stink bug fact sheet [PDF, 428 KB]
Identify and compare similar-looking local species
MPI and Landcare Research have developed an online tool to help identify the brown marmorated stink bug and other Pentatomidaes (the family stink bugs belong to).