Hitchhiking bugs can cause a stink in Australia

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), or Halyomorpha halys, is an agricultural pest that feeds on, and can severely damage, fruit and vegetable crops. The pest has spread from its native range in East Asia to form established populations in North America and Europe but is not yet present or widely established in Australia. Like the Asian Gypsy Moth, the BMSB is considered a ‘hitchhiker pest’ that can spread via oceangoing vessels in international trade. When BMSB adults seek shelter from cold weather during the winter months, they tend to fid their way into shipping containers, vehicles, machinery and other types of cargo.

If the BMSB were to establish and spread in Australia, it would be extremely difficult and expensive to manage, partly due to its broad host range. Preventing an incursion in the first place is therefore a high priority and every year the Australian government reviews the import restrictions in time for the BMSB risk season which begins in September. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has announced the following activities ahead of the 2018/2019 season:

-Between 1 September 2018 and 30 April 2019, heightened surveillance activities will be implemented to monitor vessels arriving in Australia from the United States, Japan and certain European countries.
-Depending on the type cargo and the potential for insects to hide within the goods carried, vessels may need to undergo mandatory treatment offshore, e.g. by heat or fumigation, prior to being given entry into Australia.

Vessel operators are referred to the Australian BMSB website for an overview of all current targeted risk countries and goods, as well as the applicable measures to be complied with. However, as of 19 July 2018:

-the list of ‘target risk countries’ includes: USA, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Georgia, Russia and Japan;
-examples of ‘target high risk goods’, i.e. goods that require mandatory offshore treatment, include: break bulk cargoes, such as vehicles and machinery, bricks, tiles, steel and other goods likely to be stored in a manner that provides access for BMSB to overwinter; and
-examples of ‘target risk goods’, i.e. goods that will require increased onshore intervention, include: chemical products, minerals, fertilisers, plastics, tyres and paper.

Unwanted in New Zealand and Chile too

It is worth noting that similar BMSB management measures also apply to vessels arriving in New Zealand and Chile. According to New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) website “Hitchhiker pests”, the BMSB is, in addition to Asian Gypsy Moth, a pests of major concern on arriving vessels. The MPI specifically requires new and used cars, trucks, machinery, boats and parts imported from the United States to be treated before being shipped to New Zealand. However, due to a spike in BMSB detections during the 2017/2018 season, additional management measures were implemented for goods arriving from Italy and for vehicles and machinery arriving from Japan as well. It should be expected that seasonal requirements will be expanded to imported goods from other BMSB risk countries also during the 2018/2019 season.

The Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (Servicio Agricola y Ganadero (SAG)) declared BMSB as a quarantine pest in 2011 and has since required control and fumigation of certain imported products, mainly coming from the United States. Following recent interceptions in shipments of used clothing, toys, shoes and vehicles, a new resolution (No. 971/2018) took effect on 10 February 2018 which requires fumigation of such goods arriving in Chile from the United States.


Members and clients with vessels trading to Australia, New Zealand and Chile should ensure that masters and crew are familiar with, and adhere to, the BMSB seasonal management measures applicable at any given time. Cleaning or treatment of goods/cargo in the country of origin may be required. It is also important that the all crew members continue to remain vigilant for BMSB and other exotic insects and report any onboard detections to the relevant quarantine authorities at the destination.

Source: GARD (http://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/25892491/hitchhiking-bugs-can-cause-a-stink-in-australia)

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