The Hawke's Bay Regional Council is asking residents to watch for "unwanted bugs" after a man found 26 brown marmorated stink bugs in a box of shoes ordered via the internet.

The discovery prompted the council to support the Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity message, that people need to take the right steps if they find insects or plant material in their packages.

The stink bugs that the man found managed to slip through biosecurity measures at the New Zealand border.

On opening the parcel, he immediately took the shoes and wrapping into his bathroom, closed the door and window, and called MPI. The insects were quickly contained and killed - no longer posing a biosecurity threat.

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Although Christmas is over, it hasn't hindered people taking advantage of the Boxing Day and New Year's Day sales, with the council and MPI advising extra caution.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council's manager for catchment services Campbell Leckie, said biosecurity was critical for Hawke's Bay, as many people's jobs and livelihoods relied on healthy agriculture and orchards.

According to MPI the Brown marmorated stink bugs would attack grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus and stone fruit and corn - some of Hawke's Bay's most vital agricultural aspects.

"Even if you aren't working directly in this area, your lifestyle and income relies on that economy not being devastated by stinkbugs or any other pests," he said.

"As it's not physically possible for MPI to check every parcel, we need every New Zealander to be biosecurity watchdogs. Alert MPI immediately if you find insects or plant material in any parcel from overseas."

Leckie said stink bugs could have a huge impact on the region's agriculture, lifestyle and economy.

They were a major problem in parts of North America after being accidentally introduced from Asia. The bug has also established in Europe and South America with many insecticides ineffective at controlling it.

There are also other insects and plant pests that have the potential to ruin crops or even native plants.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are easy to identify with adults approximately the size of a $1 coin and with a white banding on the antennae, with alternate black and white markings on the abdomen.

Leckie said if anyone thought they had come across a brown maromorated stink bug to call catch it in a jar and call 0800 80 99 66.

For more information on biosecurity go to www.mpi.govt.nz.