Six brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) were found in a shipping container of timber from the USA that arrived in Port Adelaide earlier this month. The timber was destined for the production of wine barrels. The container was fumigated and the insects killed.

As a result of the discovery of this exotic plant pest, similar consignments will be closely monitored by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

“BMSB is a serious agricultural pest of numerous fruit and vegetable crops, and is a high priority exotic plant pest in Australia,” said Inca Pearce, Vinehealth Australia CEO.

“It can feed on grapes and further predispose them to secondary infection, thus impacting grape quality and yield. Additionally, if BMSB’s are present in grape bunches when processed through the winery, compounds may be released from the BMSB that can impact wine quality.

“We encourage you to always be on the lookout for pests (known as ‘hitchhikers’) when unpacking shipping containers or receiving consignments from overseas. In particular, we are seeking heightened vigilance with any shipments of timber for barrel making or entire barrels being received from North America, Europe or Asia.”

If you see any unusual pest in a shipping container or international consignment when receiving, unpacking or using the items, secure the goods to limit the movement of any animals or insects and immediately report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.  

“Please share this information with your staff involved in these processes and with any relevant suppliers,” Inca said. “We are also sending this alert to all wineries, SA growers and cooperages for the wine industry.” 

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), is one of Australia’s top 40 priority plant pests. It is a mottle brown coloured shield-shaped stink bug (adults 12-17mm long) which looks quite similar to many Australian native stink bugs. The BMSB however has distinctive black and white banding around the outer edge of the abdomen, and white bands on the last two antennal segments.

Juveniles and adults feed on fruit and vegetable crops, severely damaging them. The BMSB is also a nuisance pest to humans in general, as adults enter vehicles, homes and factories in large numbers in autumn months, looking for places to shelter over winter.

BMSB can arrive in Australia on cargo and in shipping containers between September and April, coinciding with late autumn and winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Click here for a guide to identifying the brown marmorated stink bug and other pests.