Last month we updated you on Australia’s successful 2020-21 season of fighting the hitchhiker pest, brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

We also recently listened to the webinar ‘Managing the risk of a serious hitchhiker pest’, by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, which focussed on Australia’s BMSB efforts.

Key points

  • BMSB (Halyomorpha halys) has been a pest in Asia for a long time and it has only been in the past few decades that it has started spreading worldwide. It was first found in the United States in the 1990s and then in 2010, erupted as a major pest of apples and stonefruit in the eastern part of the country and in 2016 was estimated to have caused $60m USD damage to hazelnut crops in Georgia.
  • Temperate regions of the world are most susceptible to invasions by this pest and it is the overwintering lifecycle that drives the risk for us in Australia, which we need to manage by targeting the right goods at the right time and constantly reviewing our processes.
  • It is considered a ‘landscape’ pest as it acts by moving through different crops in a landscape rather than sticking to a particular crop only.
  • BMSB has always been an identified pest of concern for Australia but we started actively putting in place measures to manage its presence in 2014/15.
  • The BMSB releases (happy) pheromones when it moves to its overwintering phase which encourages others to join the hiding spot and therefore they are most often found in groups.
  • At the border, the BMSB is most often found in inanimate objects like machinery, vehicles and parts rather than plants on which it can feed and therefore the time at which it overwinters when reaching our borders is the active management period (September to April). These types of inanimate objects are very complex in nature, and we have high volumes entering Australia and therefore it’s hard to secure them once onshore.
  • At the beginning, Australia began by targeting goods from Italy and Japan as the first two countries of interest, but after a few weeks this grew to 11 countries and now is up to 36 countries of interest.
  • Managing offshore risk is integral and involves hundreds of desktop audits a year and between 50 to 100 onsite audits in high risk countries to review system verification.
  • In 2016-17, New Zealand established that they were regulating the same countries for BMSB as Australia and thereafter the two countries began working together to align their management requirements where they could. Sharing resources has been especially beneficial for NZ in being able to obtain better measures of success of the management system through economies of scale in terms of combined inspection and interception data.

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