Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.
New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.
The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.
Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority.
“But along with MPI, New Zealanders have a critical role in protecting the country from the Stink Bug. The risk is real – along with the recent car shipments being turned away, there have been increasing detections of the Stink Bug at our borders.
“Our country would never be the same if this Stink Bug managed to invade our shores and become established. This is a huge threat to our horticultural industries, to thousands of jobs and to the economy as a whole. It would also be one of the worst household pests this country has ever experienced.
“The Stink Bug would thrive in cities like Auckland, for example, where huge populations of these foul-smelling insects would take shelter inside homes in the colder seasons only to emerge in the warmer seasons, wiping out gardens and spreading across communities like a creeping plague.
“The greatest safeguard we have is people’s vigilance. Hence, we are raising public awareness and educating people about what to look for and what to do. If anyone finds an unusual bug, catch it, photograph it and call the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline 0800 80 99 66”.
He also encouraged New Zealanders returning home from overseas to fully check their luggage before they leave for home just in case an unwanted bug has decided to hitchhike to New Zealand. And anyone importing goods, machinery and equipment should have their overseas supplier confirm that the shipment is free of unwanted pests and complies with New Zealand’s Import Health Standards.
“You only have to see what this stink bug is capable of to understand why we need to work together to protect New Zealand against it, whatever it takes.”
More information on this and other unwanted pests can be found on MPI’s website www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response
Source: New Zealand Apples & Pears