Brown marmorated stink bug
Exotic to Australia
Features: Shield shaped marbled bug up to 17 mm long that eats crops and ornamental plants; becomes a nuisance in homes and buildings
Where it's from: Asia, North America, Europe, Oceania and South America
How it spreads: Hitchhikes on imported goods, including personal items, machinery and vehicles, ships, boats and aircraft
At risk: Over 300 agricultural and ornamental plant species; our way of life
While this exotic stink bug looks similar to native stink bug species, it would devastate crops and ornamental plants and become a smelly nuisance if it established in Australia.
Ken Walker, PaDIL.
Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, provides an overview of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB)
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Keep it out
This nasty bug (Halyomorpha halys) is a hitchhiker, stowing away in all manner of imported goods and personal effects including suitcases. While it doesn’t pose a risk to human health, brown marmorated stink bug can breed up huge populations that become both a household nuisance as well as a major problem for our crop growers. It feeds on more than 300 hosts including fruit trees and woody ornamentals.
If it established in Australia, this pest would be extremely difficult and expensive to manage, since it isn’t easily controlled with pesticides and it eats a huge range of plants. It likes to hide in houses in cooler weather and, as the name suggests, also emits an offensive smell.
To keep brown marmorated stink bug out of Australia, never ignore Australia’s strict biosecurity rules.
Import shipments may need to be treated and certified so before you import, check our Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
The risk of importing BMSB increases from September to May. Check the current seasonal measures for incoming goods and vessels.
What to look for
Australia has its own native stink bugs which can look similar, making it tricky to spot this exotic invader. Key distinguishing features of the adult brown marmorated stink bug:
- smaller than many stink bugs at 14–17 mm
- shield shaped
- most are marbled with a faint reddish tinge
- have white banding on the antennae
- alternate black and white markings on the edges of the abdomen
- light green to white barrel-shaped eggs laid in clusters of 25 to 30 on the underside of leaves.
- are 2–12 mm long
- have a dark head with an orange to red abdomen with black stripes around the outer edges and down the centre
- do not have fully developed wings
- become darker as they grow with bands on legs and antennae.
Where to look
It can arrive in Australia on goods, vessels, mail or personal items, particularly in the warmer months. People living near ports or working with cargo will often be the first to spot it.
Check your luggage and mail
Recently travelled from East Asia, North America or Europe? Check your luggage and belongings for hitchhikers.
Open luggage and mail from overseas in an enclosed space to help you contain any hitchhiking pests.
Hidden in crevices
Overseas, brown marmorated stink bug hides from cold weather as winter approaches. They shelter in crevices or protected areas of goods that could be imported into Australia including:
- electrical equipment
- personal stored items
- shipping containers.
Feeding on crops
Brown marmorated stink bug is a voracious feeder that damages vegetable crops, fruit and ornamental trees. They feed on more than 300 hosts. This includes agricultural crops including:
- some ornamental plants
What to do
If you think you have found brown marmorated stink bug:
- take a photo
- do not disturb the bug (this may be as simple as closing the doors on a shipping container, closing your suitcase, or putting a parcel into a plastic bag)
- collect a sample of the bug, if it is possible to do so without disturbing it.
Seen something unusual? Report it. Even if you’re not sure.