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What are stink bugs?

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) and the yellow spotted stink bug (YSSB) has spread to the United States and Europe from Asia. However, the stink bugs have not established in New Zealand.
Posted on 15 February, 2018
What are stink bugs?

The Ministry of Primary Industries have caught the pest at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods such as vehicles and machinery.

 What is the risk?

BMSB and YSSB are agricultural pests found in Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea; it has aggressively invaded the US and could successfully establish in New Zealand. How the insect destroys crops:

  • The insect feeds on more than 300 hosts, primarily fruit trees and woody ornamentals but also field crops.
  • A broad range of crops can be attacked including: citrus; pipfruit; stonefruit; berries, grapes, asparagus, soybeans, sweetcorn, honeysuckle, maple, butterfly bush, cypress, hibiscus and roses.
  • Adults generally feed on mature and immature fruit, while nymphs feed on leaves and stems as well as fruit.
  • It severely disfigures fruit and renders it unmarketable, which results in control costs and production losses.
In the US some farmers have reported crop losses of up to 95 per cent.  BMSB is not a risk to human health but is a public nuisance. When disturbed or crushed it emits a characteristic, unpleasant and long-lasting odour.
 What do they look like?
  • Adults are approximately 1.7 cm long, around a size of a one dollar coin, with a distinctive “shield” shape. 
  • There are currently two types, the brown and the yellow spotted.
  • Underside is white/tan, legs and antennae are brown with white banding.
  • Eggs are barrel shaped, and found in clusters of 20–30 eggs. These eggs are laid on the underside of leaves.
How are the stink bugs currently affecting New Zealand?

The presence of stink bugs onboard four car carriers bound for New Zealand have forced the ships to leave New Zealand waters and await correct fumigation procedures.

Three of the car carriers had already reached New Zealand's shores with stink bug infestations: Armacup 's Tokyo Car, Mitsui OSK Line's Courageous Ace, and the latest being Toyofuji's Sepang Express.

The fourth, Glovis Caravel, was bound for New Zealand, however the car carrier was redirected on Wednesday after a check conducted at sea found the two types of stink bugs, the YSSB and BMSB.