A proactive approach to preventing the entry of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) in Australia has been very successful, according to the Australian Government’s Head of Biosecurity Lyn O’Connell.

As reported in ‘Biosecurity Matters’ Edition 3, 2020, the 2019/20 BMSB risk season ended in May.

“Together with our industry partners, we took a really proactive stance this season to ensure this highly-invasive pest didn’t reach our shores,” Ms O’Connell said.

“The number of countries known to have BMSB, or intelligence of BMSB being present, has grown significantly. It went from nine during the 2018–19 season up to 32 in the current season presenting us with a much greater challenge.”

To combat this increased risk, while maintaining the smooth processing of cargo, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment implemented some important new measures this season.

“To manage the BMSB risk offshore as much as possible we approved and registered 216 offshore treatment providers. This was done in conjunction with our New Zealand counterparts. It allowed us to implement mandatory offshore treatment for break bulk and flat rack/open top containers for the 2019–20 season,” Ms O’Connell said.

“As a result, 65,493 containers/break bulk items — over 40% of containers subject to BMSB — were treated offshore. This meant they were not subject to local BMSB intervention and sped up clearance times in Australia.”

SeaPest, a new system the department developed to manage Less than Container Load (LCL)/Freight of All Kinds (FAK) consignments at the container level. This has helped process 11,247 containers and removed the need to manage 42,993 LCL consignments. These would have otherwise been subject to BMSB intervention.

The department undertook 257 seasonal pest inspections of vessels. This resulted in three vessels being turned around due to detections of live BMSB and other hitchhiker pests.

“We saw a marked reduction in BMSB detections — from 63 post-biosecurity detections in 2018–19 down to 18 for the 2019–20 season. This is an impressive figure, given that risk has increased. Most notably, only 4 of these detections were of live BMSB, compared to 31 live post-biosecurity detections in 2018–19,’ Ms O’Connell said.

The department is currently finalising proposed measures for the 2020–21 BMSB season. Updates will be published via an Industry Advice Notice and on our BMSB webpage.

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), is one of Australia’s top 40 priority plant pests. It has the potential to severely impact our agriculture industries and is a nuisance pest as adults enter vehicles, homes and factories in large numbers in autumn months, looking for places to shelter and overwinter.

BMSB can arrive in Australia on cargo and containers between September and April, coinciding with late autumn and winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The federal government applies seasonal measures to certain goods manufactured in or shipped from a large number of target risk countries, and/or vessels that berth at, load or tranship from target risk countries from 1 September that arrive in an Australian territory by 31 May.

BMSB is a mottle brown coloured shield-shaped stink bug (adults 12-17mm long) which looks quite similar to many Australian native stink bugs. Use this quick reference guide to help identification: Quick Reference Guide for identifying features of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (G) compared to other Native Stink Bugs.

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.