The Science Media Centre today has reacted to media reports of 26 live Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs were discovered in a box of imported shoes in Oamaru.
The centre asked an expert to comment on the reports and notes it put together an extended Q&A with experts in March.
Dr David Teulon, Director, Better Border Biosecurity (B3):
“I can’t comment on the current response, but like any find of a small population of pests like this one, it is concerning.
“BMSB is a potentially very serious pest to many of our valued plant systems: both productive and natural. But it is also an important ‘social’ pest as it is known to invade dwellings in large numbers. Unfortunately, BMSB is not the only biosecurity concern for NZ but it is recognised as one of the more problematic.
“The threat from BMSB has been known for at least 10 years now, as it has rapidly spread around the world, and the research community, including B3, is working closely with government and industry to develop tools to keep it out of the country. The recently formed BMSB Council reflects the widespread concern for BMSB invading NZ.
“The research community has also been working closely with its international collaborators in North America, Europe and China – where BMSB is present – and with Australia, where it is not found. This has provided NZ with significant external investment and in some cases saved us years in preparation time. The Australians are just as keen to keep it out as us. New Zealand researchers, government and industry had a meeting earlier this week to coordinate our research programmes.
“BMSB poses several unique challenges for us. It hides in many commodities that cross our borders – such as shoe boxes in eBay shipments – but also larger items like imported cars. This behaviour makes it very difficult to find and kill. The current ‘pheromone’ attractants are not as strong as others used in biosecurity, so it is difficult to trap it in the landscape. That BMSB can enter New Zealand in this variety of ways makes it important that all New Zealanders are on the lookout for this pest, echoing the Biosecurity 2025 programme’s theme of ‘a biosecurity team of 4.7 million’.
“One of the outstanding successes from the research community has been the research to underpin an EPA application to release the Samurai Wasp – a natural biological control agent – should BMSB establish in New Zealand. This pre-emptive approach is considered a world first and is recognised by the international community as an example of New Zealand doing things right.”
Source: Science Media Centre