Beware: Travellers warned of sneaky stink bugs

The thrill of travel often comes with its own set of surprises, but one surprise Aussie travellers returning from Europe and Asia certainly don't want to encounter is the brown marmorated stink bug.

This pesky stowaway, known for its distinctive odour and potential to wreak havoc on the agricultural industry, has prompted an urgent warning from the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

The alert was issued following an incident where a traveller discovered a stink bug nestled in a pair of pants in their luggage upon returning to New South Wales from Asia.

The quick-thinking traveller trapped the bug in a jar, froze it, and promptly contacted the DPI.

SDC Images (3).png
An urgent warning has been issued by the NSW Department of Primary Industries on brown marmorated stink bugs. Image source: zinkevych on Freepik (left), Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (right).

Subsequent testing confirmed the insect to be a brown marmorated stink bug.

While these pests have been successfully eradicated in NSW since August 2018, the incident has highlighted the need for vigilance.

Agriculture, Regional and Western NSW Minister Tara Moriarty has urged travellers to thoroughly inspect their luggage, including clothing and shoes, as well as their homes and yards upon return from overseas trips.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a voracious eater, feeding on over 300 plant species.

This includes a variety of crops, such as apples, peaches, raspberries, sweet corn, green beans, capsicums, and tomatoes.

An outbreak of these bugs can be a nightmare to manage, as they are not easily eradicated through pesticides, therefore causing significant damage to agriculture.

Adult bugs are about the size of a five-cent coin—12 to 17mm long and 7 to 10mm wide—and are generally mottled brown in colour with white bands on their antennae, legs, and the sides of their abdomen.

Their most notorious characteristic, however, is the strong, putrid odour they release when disturbed, likened to rancid coriander, ammonia, and sulphur.

Find out more about this bug in the video below:

Video source: Youtube/NSW DPI Biosecurity.

According to Ms Moriarty, these smelly pests pose a 'serious threat' to the state's flora and farming industry.

'Sheltering in large numbers in buildings and equipment during the winter months, it’s a nuisance pest for businesses and households,' she said.

The stink bugs are known to hibernate during winter, often burrowing into cargo and luggage of people travelling across the Northern Hemisphere from September to April.

In response, Australia has ramped up importation rules and seasonal surveillance in shipments from high-risk locations during this period.

If you're a traveller who encounters these stink bugs, you're urged to call the NSW Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881, whether the bugs are dead or alive.
Key Takeaways
  • Australian travellers returning from Europe or Asia were warned to inspect their luggage for brown marmorated stink bugs.
  • A brown marmorated stink bug was discovered in the luggage of a NSW traveller, who contained and reported it to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
  • These pests are harmful to over 300 plant species and are difficult to eradicate, posing a serious threat to agriculture and flora.
  • Measures such as surveillance and increased importation rules during the Northern Hemisphere winter months were put in place to combat the potential spread of these insects.
Have you, or anyone you know, encountered this bug before? Let us know in the comments below!
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Reactions: Liag and nunna
Clever person to do that. I probably would have just sprayed it.

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