Australia has a strong biosecurity system in place to prevent the entry and establishment of pests that could threaten our agricultural industries, economy, environment and way of life (1).

Hitchhiker pests can hitch a ride from one location to another through human-assisted transport, on items such as packaging, machinery, equipment, cargo ships, footwear and clothing. For the wine industry, vintage is a particularly important time to monitor for hitchhiker pests, whether you are in the vineyard or winery.

We strongly encourage grapegrowers and winemakers to look out for hitchhiker pests including brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), particularly when unpacking containers, and receiving international goods such as wine barrels, wine presses or other machines.

Carefully inspect timber pallets, cardboard boxes, loose packaging filling and stretch film. Inspection involves looking for living or dead insects or animals; sawdust and frass; small holes in timber, plastic or cardboard; insect eggs; nests; snails; and plant matter mixed with mud, dirt or soil.

By paying attention, you might spot something really important. If you spot any pest you don’t recognise, secure the goods to limit the movement of the pests, and immediately call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

On a more localised note, during vintage, people and machinery can be responsible for spreading weed seeds and pests. If you are walking vineyards during vintage, remember to check and clean your footwear, socks and clothing of pests and weed seeds before you leave a vineyard, and do the same for your car tyres. Vigilance is also required around cleaning of harvesters between vineyards.