In our previous blog about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) we unpacked the damage these pests can cause and the restrictions some countries are placing on goods entering their ports. The reason for needing such strict controls to prevent stink bugs from entering is that – given half a chance – these tiny insects have the ability to devastate crops. Uncontrolled, they could wreak havoc on the economy of the country concerned.
We recently experienced a similar pest invasion here in South Africa. The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer beetle (PSHB) has been devastating established trees around the country. Dr Trudy Paap of FABI first found the PSHB in Pietermaritzburg in 2017 and since then it has spread to the Garden Route and other parts of the country.
The PSHB beetle entered South Africa undetected and “judging by the number of trees the beetle has killed in Johannesburg as well as George and Knysna, this beetle could potentially be one of South Africa’s largest ecological tragedies. In addition, the beetle is currently infesting over 200 tree species from 28 plant families worldwide” said Dr Paap.
Professor Francois Roets of the Department of Conservation, Ecology, and Entomology, Faculty of AgriScience at Stellenbosch University, went on to say that “the beetle probably landed in South Africa on wooden pallets used in the shipping of goods. These wooden pallets are not treated very well in other parts of the world and get infested with insects, and they land on our shores and start exploring.”
Prevent stink bug stowaways:
New Zealand specifically is doing everything possible to prevent the BMSB from entering the country, enforcing new rules pertaining to imports. A strict message has been delivered to shippers, agents, and importers that imported cargo must meet the new rules to prevent stink bugs from entering New Zealand.
“The importing industry needs to be aware that high-risk cargo that hasn’t been treated before arrival will not be allowed to come ashore,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett.
New import rules have been put in place for “off-shore treatment of imported vehicles, machinery, and parts from 33 identified risk countries, and all sea containers from Italy during the stink bug season.”
“Last season, Biosecurity New Zealand turned away 4 contaminated vessels from New Zealand waters and intercepted 151 live stink bugs at the border. The aim is to keep out a highly invasive pest that could devastate New Zealand’s horticulture industry if it established here.”
High-risk vessels carrying stink bugs:
Some of the high-risk vessels passing South African shores include roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) carriers transporting luxury vehicle brands and earth moving equipment from Europe and China to New Zealand and Australia. Our teams have been successful in eradicating stink bug infestations, thus ensuring cargo can safely be discharged at its destination.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture provides a complete list of all risk countries and the measures that must be taken in order for vessels originating from these countries to dock in Australian ports. Heightened surveillance of roll-on roll-off vessels will be carried out during the critical season.
Measure to be taken to prevent stink bugs from travelling:
“All ro-ro vessels that berth at, load, or tranship in target risk countries from 1 September 2019 and that arrive in Australian territory by 31 May 2020 (inclusive) will be required to:
- conduct self-inspections and respond to specific questions as part of the pre-arrival reporting requirements
- undergo a mandatory seasonal pest inspection on arrival in Australia.”
To further mitigate the risk of introducing this insect into Australia, vessels will be subject to the newly introduced ‘Vessel Seasonal Pest Scheme (VSPS)’ for the 2019/20 risk season.
Only ro-ro vessels that are eligible for the VSPS and have detected no insects on board will be exempted from the mandatory seasonal pest inspection.
Prevent stink bug damage:
This little insect, the BMSB, has already caused huge damage in the US and Canada and the StopBMSB campaign website has reported that the BMSB “has been detected in 44 states and 4 Canadian provinces, posing severe agricultural problems in 9 states and nuisance problems in 23 others.”
Biological control trials are underway in various US countries to introduce the Samurai wasp – a natural predator of the BMSB egg. Although this may not completely solve the problem or prevent stink bugs entirely, it would result in a marked reduction in infestations and risk to the horticultural sector.
Stowaway insects like the BMSB, the AGM (Asian Gypsy Moth) and PSHB can be hard to detect. Once established, an infestation can have huge cost incurring consequences.
Recently Rentokil was asked to fumigate an imported container load of wicker baskets which were infested with booklice. If this infestation had gone undetected and the goods had been offloaded, these booklice could have caused serious damage to more than just one client.
Rentokil provides expert pest control services to treat your commodities, containers and shipping vessels for brown marmorated stink bugs, Asian gipsy moth and various other invasive and stored product insects when they dock in South African ports. All services are performed according to SA Quarantine and Inspection Services specification.
Contact us today to ensure that your cargo is not quarantined or turned around at its destination.
Written by: Peta Florus