No job is too big or too small for our Rentokil technicians and is especially true for the Rentokil KwaZulu-Natal pest team who recently took on the challenge of ridding several large shipping vessels of a very small – but highly invasive – pest: the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).
We were contacted by a market leading roll-on/roll-off shipping concern who transports vehicles and machinery internationally. On previous occasions, we have treated these vessels en-route from Europe to New Zealand and Australia, where strict controls are in place to prevent the BMSB from invading these countries.
Brown marmorated stink bugs have their origins in Asia and have invaded countries in Europe and the USA causing huge damage to crops and residences. They are considered a bio-hazardous pest due to their ability to destroy agricultural crops (including fruit orchards and vegetables) and in turn have a deleterious effect on the economy.
In a December news release, it was estimated that additional fogging services for those vessels that have been denied port entry cost an estimated USD 3 million.
The BMSB’s inability to fly long distances is compensated by their ability to hide in confined, inconspicuous spaces and thus be transported far distances. They cling to the undercarriages of vehicles or hide in parts of vehicles and machinery being shipped to other countries, and they stow away on luggage, hiding in virtually anything they on which they can hitch a ride.
Adult bugs are up to 1.7 cm in length and have a shield-shaped body which is mottled brown, with black and white banding around the rear.
The BMSB is a very hard pest to detect as they most often resemble native stink bugs. Native stink bugs look similar but are not harmful and could, therefore, go unnoticed. Farmers are therefore requested by their country’s authorities to keep a watchful eye for these bugs and notify their bureaus of any sightings.
BMSB’s are extremely difficult to destroy and breed quickly and easily. Female stink bugs lay eggs on the underside of leaves in clusters of 35-45 which develop from nymph to adult in 30 to 60 days, depending on the temperature. In the USA there have been countless occurrences of brown marmorated stink bugs invading homes during the colder autumn and winter months, as they look for warmth.
Stink bugs get their name from the foul smell which they release to ward off predators and also to attract other stink bugs. This can be quite unpleasant for the unsuspecting homeowner! When squashed, they also emit a pungent odour which makes getting rid of them hard to do without the unpleasant stench.
They are highly invasive and feed on plants – including many fruits and vegetables – and “would attack grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus and stone fruit, corn and many other valuable crops” warns the Ministry for Primary Industries New Zealand. A Pest Alert has also been issued by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources listing a number of invasive pests, including the BMSB.
In a recent media release (November 2018) by Biosecurity New Zealand a Cargo ship was ordered to leave New Zealand as it contained live and dead regulated stink bugs. The article goes on to report that in February of the same year four bulk carriers were also ordered to turn around when stink bugs were detected.
If brown marmorated stink bugs are not contained they could pose a huge threat to agricultural markets. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has estimated that it could cost New Zealand $4.2 billion in exports by 2038. Goods from target risk countries that are shipped between 1 September and 30 April are therefore required to be treated with either heat treatment, methyl bromide or sulfuryl fluoride fumigation.
Rentokil can provide expert services to treat your commodities, containers and shipping vessels for brown marmorated stink bugs, Asian gypsy moth and various other invasive pests when they dock in South African ports, 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