Stink bugs are dangerous

February 3rd, 2015

Stink bugs are dangerous

A stink bug? Dangerous?  A stinkbug naturalized in the United States has been found in cargo delivered to Australian ports including Port Kembla.  According to an industry notice from the Department of Agriculture, the brown marmorated stink bug is “an exotic pest of considerable biosecurity concern to Australia’s agriculture industry.”

The Brown marmorated stink bug pierces and sucks plant juices from fruits, pods and other parts creating malformation, discoloration, cloudy spots (depressed areas) and wart-like growth depending on the plant or damaged part.  In addition dark spots can develop as a result of puncturing. These spots can harbor secondary infections. The dangerous stink bug is also capable of transmitting witches’ broom, a phytoplasma disease.

There are approximately 300 species of stinkbugs. They feed on a variety of hosts that include fruit trees, broadleaved trees, vegetables, field crops and ornamental plants.  The bugs can become a problem for homeowners when it starts looking for hiding places in and around the homes overwinter.

“Juveniles feed on and severely damage, fruit and vegetable crops, and adults can enter vehicles, homes and factories in autumn months in large numbers looking for warm places to hide and overwinter.” the notice declared.

The source of the stowaway is the US port of Savannah. “The volume of pests is so large there that the Department of Agriculture requires all cargo to be treated before leaving. The treatment includes fumigation which is applied as a fog throughout the deck of the cargo vessel. When the cargo lands in Australia, it will undergo an inspection,” said a department spokeswoman. “Due to increased detections of brown marmorated stink bug pest on cargo coming from certain ports in the eastern United States, the department is requiring inspections of trucks, other vehicles and automotive parts prior to discharge.”

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