When biosecurity threats are mentioned it is often the case that Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) becomes the topic of conversation.

Although in relative terms FMD is viewed as the disease that would potentially bring wide spread damage to our economy, other pest and diseases are continuously being intercepted at our borders and in some cases detected within our country.

One pest that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has recently highlighted as a concern is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). This is an agricultural pest found in Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea which has aggressively invaded the United States. MPI has recently lifted its surveillance efforts due to the enhanced risk of it entering and establishing within New Zealand.

This insect feeds on more than 300 hosts, primarily fruit trees and woody ornamentals, but also field crops. Almost any crops can be at risk, including: citrus; pipfruit; stonefruit; berries and grapes; asparagus; soybeans and maize; honeysuckle; maple; butterfly bush; cypress, hibiscus; and roses.

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Adults generally feed on mature and immature fruit, while nymphs feed on leaves and stems as well as fruit. It severely disfigures fruit and renders it unmarketable, which results in control costs and production losses.

Brown marmorated stink bug damage to woody ornamentals and forest trees has been reported as cosmetic only. It is not a risk to human health but is a public nuisance. When disturbed or crushed it emits a characteristic, unpleasant and long-lasting odour.

Adults are approximately 1.7 cm long, with a distinctive brown "shield" shape. Underside is white/tan, legs and antennae are brown with white banding. Eggs are light green, barrel shaped, and found in clusters of 20 -- 30 eggs. These eggs are laid on the underside of leaves.

MPI has measures in place to reduce the risk of exotic pests being introduced including requirements for importers and screening at the border. However there is no such thing as zero risk and it is possible that the BMSB and other insects could hitch-hike their way into the country undetected.

When coming across an unusual pest or disease it is recommendedyou report anything you find to MPI on 0800 80 99 66. If possible with a photograph and/or collect samples.