Winter campaign to raise awareness of brown marmorated stink bug

Biosecurity New Zealand has launched its winter campaign to help raise awareness of a particularly unwanted pest – the brown marmorated stink bug, or BMSB (pictured above).

This bug poses a major threat to New Zealand’s horticulture industry, with the potential to cost the country nearly $4 billion if it established here, says Biosecurity New Zealand’s manager of readiness, Dr Cath Duthie.

“There is always the chance the unwanted pest could arrive in parcels and with other imported items. We very much want the public to help us with our surveillance efforts.”

The BMSB winter campaign focuses on showing people how to correctly identify BMSB and report it. BMSB looks like some other bug species but has elements that make it identifiable, including white stripes or banding on its antennae and abdomen. Continue reading

Strict import checks reduce biosecurity threat from brown marmorated stink bug

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 off-shore 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. Continue reading

Max Suckling updates the NZIAHS on Trimble Award’s role in war on stink bugs

Max Suckling,  was learning to be a bug hunter for a new invasive threat, when AgScience reported in June last year on the NZIAHS grant to him of a Trimble Award to visit colleagues in Italy.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, which had been discovered in this country, was rampaging through horticultural crops in Italy, including apples, pears, kiwifruit, grape vines and corn.

Max is a professor at the University of Auckland and Science Group Leader (Biosecurity) at the NZ Institute for Plant and Food Research (Christchurch).

His projects would gain him practical experience with traps and aggregation pheromone lures for surveillance and suppression, as well as further evaluation of the potential for the sterile insect technique to be used in the event of an incursion into New Zealand. Continue reading

Government on high alert for stink bugs

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is warning travelling Kiwis to be vigilant as the high-season for the crop-eating brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is under way.

The high season runs until April 30 and Biosecurity NZ has strengthened its measures to stop stink bug establishing itself here, Mr O’Connor said.

“It’s an especially timely reminder for those travelling to Rugby World Cup matches. A recent swarm of green stink bug and yellow spotted stink bug have occurred in Kobe, Japan. Biosecurity NZ staff based there will continue to ensure we have the right measures in place. We want to keep the risk offshore as much as possible.

“It’s a sneaky pest that we’ve caught at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods. They’re a damaging economic pest and a significant household nuisance

“In the past few months we’ve increased the number of additional BMSB risk countries from 16 to 33 and we’ve upped our mandatory pre-arrival treatment requirements for targeted vehicles, machinery and parts.’’ Continue reading

NZ gets first-hand lesson from visiting Brown Marmorated Stink Bug expert

The invasive Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) poses a huge threat to New Zealand’s primary industries. Experience from countries where the pest is present is highly valuable to New Zealand in preventing and controlling any potential BMSB outbreaks.

Professor Claudio Ioriatti, a world-renowned expert on BMSB, is visiting New Zealand, sharing useful knowledge from the European BMSB control effort.

Professor Ioriatti, Director of the Technology Transfer Centre, the Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy, arrived in NZ yesterday on an Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) Conference Support Programme.

He will meet key groups involved in improving New Zealand’s readiness for BMSB in Auckland, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Tauranga before leaving on May 31.

Plant & Food Research has been pioneering pre-emptive biocontrol and actively looking for alternatives in case of a BMSB incursion.

Professor Ioriatti will conduct seminars and talks with Plant & Food Research scientists and other stakeholders including Ministry for Primary Industries officials, horticultural industry representatives, and growers from the pipfruit, wine grape and kiwifruit industries, amongst others.

He will give updates on European Union’s progress in BMSB control and outline the general impacts of BMSB in Italy and the EU, the current situation, impacts on horticulture, and Integrated Management Strategies such as the use of netting and biocontrol options, as well as insecticides. Other emerging threats including Spotted Wing Drosophila and Spotted Lantern fly will also be discussed.

Professor Ioriatti has a strong interest in the development of integrated fruit-viticulture protection and the implementation of control techniques based on the use of pheromones.

As Director of the Technology Transfer Centre, he specialises in anticipating the needs of horticultural industries, understanding problems, studying solutions and disseminating knowledge in order to maintain high production quality while protecting the environment.

Besides raising awareness among New Zealand growers, Professor Ioriatti will discuss the options facing Italian growers in the Trentino region, where stink bugs and fruit flies are driving growers back towards the use of insecticides in several crops. His visit and knowledge will help advance New Zealand growers’ preparedness to these threats.

This is a reciprocal visit that builds on the 2018 Trimble Award given to Plant & Food Research Science Group Leader Professor Max Suckling, who visited Professor Ioriatti at Fondazione Edmund Mach for three months to work on BMSB last year.

Source: Plant & Food Research

Tighter import rules are aimed at stopping stink bug

New treatment and cleaning rules for imported vehicles and machinery will make it harder for brown marmorated stink bugs to make landfall in New Zealand, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The ministry released the new import health standard for vehicles, machinery and equipment today. It will come into force on  September 1 – the beginning of the stink bug season.

“Imported vehicles and machinery pose a high biosecurity risk, as stink bugs hibernate in nooks and crannies during the northern hemisphere winter,” says Paul Hallett, MPI manager of facilities and pathways.

He says the new standard has a big focus on Japan following biosecurity issues earlier this year with contaminated vehicle carriers.

There are also new restrictions on imports from many European countries, recognising the spread of stink bug through this part of the world.

“One of the big things is making it compulsory for treatment to take place offshore for non-containerised vehicles and machinery sourced from affected countries. We simply don’t want to run the risk of having contaminated cargo enter New Zealand waters.

“The new standard also covers new vehicles from Japan. In the past, we have focused on used vehicles from this country. New vehicles can be easily contaminated if they are not securely stored.”

The approved treatment options are fumigation with methyl bromide or sulfuryl fluoride and heat treatment, says Mr Hallett.

“We expect most of the imports from Japan will undergo heat treatment, as that’s going to be available locally and Japan has restrictions on some fumigants.

“We want to do everything we can to stop brown marmorated stink bug from invading New Zealand, given the damage it could cause to our horticulture industry.”

 

  • 14 more countries have been added to the list requiring mandatory treatment of vehicles and machinery during the stink bug season. This requirement previously only applied to vehicles from the United States and Italy.
  • Used imports from Japan will need to be both treated and cleaned offshore as part of an approved system during the season.
  • All other new and used imports (during the stink bug season) from other countries covered by the standard will need to be treated or go through an approved system.
  • Vehicle manufacturers will have the option of applying to MPI for biosecurity approval of their supply chain processes, avoiding the need to treat each new unit. This involves having strict controls in place to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Used machinery from any country must have a certificate proving it has undergone thorough cleaning and treatment before arrival in New Zealand. There must be evidence the machinery was disassembled for cleaning. It must also arrive with a sticker showing how and when it was treated.
  • MPI can approve alternative treatments, but only if there is proof they can produce the same outcome as the approved methods.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

Biosecurity Minister is further questioned about stink bugs from Japan

o'connor

Damien O’Connor … committed to keeping  out the brown marmorated stink bug.

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor was questioned in Parliament this week about assurances he had given  last week about stink bugs. He had said no vehicles were unloaded off ships carrying brown marmorated stink bugs from Japan recently.

But National’s Nathan Guy challenged him, saying around half the vehicles were unloaded from the Courageous Ace before loading was halted. Those cars, trucks, and buses sat on the wharf for several days before being reloaded back on to the vessel.

In reply, Mr O’Connor said he had been informed none had been unloaded.

“I will follow up on that.

“The important thing to know here — regardless of the actions that took place —is that we are absolutely committed to keeping out the brown marmorated stink bug, something that that member failed to do because he failed to resource the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and their biosecurity responsibilities properly.”

Mr Guy wasn’t finished and called for the Minister to explain how he could say the biosecurity net is working well when, in November last year, “15 live stink bugs — nine of them female — went on a 1,000-kilometre road trip to Christchurch having already passed MPI’s inspection in Auckland?”

Mr O’Connor conceded this had happened but said the biosecurity system taken over by the Labour-New Zealand First Government “had huge holes in it”.

As those holes have been discovered “we have moved immediately to shut them down”.

Very few of the 1,200 import health standards that the previous Minister was responsible for had been reviewed and upgraded.

“That’s why we are having to move through every part of the biosecurity system to give security to those New Zealand producers in the country—because we desperately need them.”

Next, Mr Guy noted the Minister had said “We cannot afford to let … in [stink bugs] and we will shut down the pathways [whenever] we find them.” He asked how this could be reconciled with large construction equipment being left on the wharf for days prior to it being eventually fumigated.

Mr O’Connor replied:

“Once again, I can’t explain the protocols and systems left to us by the previous Government. But I can tell you that we’re working through every one of those, and every member of the biosecurity system in this country knows that they’ve got a new Government with a new focus on biosecurity; they don’t have the same lazy old lax one that they had in the past.”

Finally, Mr Guy asked if the Minister has requested new urgent funding for extra resources in Japan after stating that his ministry does not have enough people offshore to inspect every vehicle; if not, why not?

Mr O’Connor replied “we don’t have enough people to inspect every single car being loaded on to a ship, but I can tell you that the protocols around that will be upgraded and offer us security that was never there under the hundreds of thousands of cars that that member let into this country.”

Stink bug alert: a fourth bulk carrier is ordered to leave New Zealand

The Ministry for Primary Industries has directed a fourth bulk carrier from Japan to leave New Zealand waters following the discovery of brown marmorated stink bug aboard the vessel.

The Glovis Caravel was ordered to leave New Zealand yesterday evening after the crew reported finding nearly 600 stink bugs, 12 of them alive, while the vessel was anchored near Auckland.

“Even though the vessel was sealed, we assessed the risk was too high for it to remain in New Zealand waters. It will now have to be treated off shore before it can return,” says Steve Gilbert, MPI Border Clearance Services Director.

The ministry has increased its border inspection and verification of bulk carriers arriving from Japan following a recent jump in detections of brown marmorated stink bug.

“Some of the carriers arriving New Zealand require no further action, but where there is contamination we have the option of denying entry,” said Mr Gilbert.

“We firmly believe our actions to date have prevented stink bugs from getting past the New Zealand border and welcome the support we have been getting from a range of industries.

Mr Gilbert said everyone appreciates a brown marmorated stink bug incursion could have a devastating impact on New Zealand agriculture.

Lincoln student in frontline of battle against stink bug

Lincoln University PhD student Laura Nixon is working on the development of a weapon in the fight to stop the brown marmorated stink bug coming into the country.

The bug is regarded by New Zealand’s horticulture industry as one of the top six pests of concern.

Ms Nixon’s research is funded through a multiorganisational research collaboration, Better Border Security (B3) and she is based at the Bio-Protection Research Centre on Lincoln’s Te Waihora campus.

Her aim is to come up with a way to chemically detect an infestation of the bugs in a confined space such as a shipping container, one of the ways it is envisaged the insect could make its way into the country.

The brown marmorated stink bug is an agricultural pest found in Asia, but it has invaded the United States and it is considered highly likely it could successfully establish in New Zealand if it gets here.

Since the insect arrived in the United States in the mid-1990s it has occasionally multiplied into plague proportions. In 2010 it caused US$37 million damage to apple crops across several states.

It feeds on more than 300 hosts, primarily fruit trees and woody ornamentals but also field crops. Almost any crop can be at risk.

Ms Nixon says the chemical compound, or the stink, the bugs emit when disturbed has been identified but she will work on trying to distinguish it from amongst other naturally emitted odours.

Initially she will work with native stink bugs, which are not considered pests, and then travel to the United States to see if her results can be used on the pest species.

She says the bugs are closely related so it is expected they will.

Ms Nixon says the bugs tend to live in big groups or aggregations, so if one container gets through then there could be a problem.

Hopefully her work will ensure it is stopped at the border, she says.

She says the method could be used to detect other insects such as ants and harlequin ladybirds which are also considered pests, though they present other challenges as they give of lower odour levels.

Her role involves developing the chemistry to the stage the odour can be detected and the commercial application may be undertaken by others.