New Zealand’s unlikely biosecurity heroes

Last month, three cleaners from separate hotels in New Zealand spotted the exotic brown marmorated stink bug that was presumed to have hitch-hiked in luggage from predominantly American visitors.

The cleaners were hailed as heroes for helping to prevent potentially damaging infestations of an insect rated as ‘high risk’ to New Zealand fruit growers. Read the original story here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11836343

“As we say at Vinehealth, biosecurity is a team game. We want to remind all in the wine industry who receive goods that pass through China, North America or Europe that this pest is a hitchhiker and can arrive in shipping containers,” said Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Pearce. “The New Zealand situation underlines that everyone in Australia needs to be vigilant with their imported goods. Keep an eye out for anything unusual.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries in NZ has a target of training the entire population to become biosecurity advocates by 2025 – an effort that has repeatedly proven vital to keeping unwanted pests and diseases out. “This is an approach we at Vinehealth strongly encourage Australia to consider,” Inca said.

Adult brown marmorated stink bugs are 12-17 mm long (smaller than a $2 coin) and mottled with a faint reddish tinge. They have distinctive black and white banding around the edge of the abdomen with white bands on the last two antennal segments.

According to the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, brown marmorated stink bugs are most likely to arrive during the high risk season between September and April, on cargo and containers, coinciding with late autumn and winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

“As we’ve seen above though, it’s not our border control alone that need to be aware of pests such as this, but a consolidated effort is needed by everyone including those in the tourism industry,” Inca said.

For more information on high priority exotic pests and diseases for Viticulture in Australia, refer: http://www.vinehealth.com.au/pests-and-diseases/exotics-viticulture/

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Image courtesy Natasha Wright, Cook’s Pest Control, Bugwood.org.