Brown marmorated stink bug: declared pest

Page last updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2019 - 3:13pm

Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is a mottle brown coloured, shield shaped stink bug. It is not found in Australia, but is well known to stow away in cargo coming out of the northern hemisphere between September and April each year.

This species has a very large host range, including fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants and trees. Overseas, BMSB is having a significant impact on agriculture and as a nuisance pest (due to its habit of seeking shelter during winter in large numbers inside buildings and vehicles).

Impact 

BMSB information video

Brown marmorated stink bug - information video

Agriculture

BMSB causes major damage to fruit and vegetable crops and ornamental plants, reducing both yield and marketability. It feeds on a wide range of more than 300 plant species, including sweet corn, tree nuts and fruits such as apples, peaches, figs, mulberries, citrus and persimmons. 

Bugs pierce the outer surface of fruit, injecting saliva and sucking out juices. This causes dimpling of the fruit's surface and rotting and corking inside the fruit. If on fruits produced for juice extraction, such as grapes or citrus, the insect may taint the entire batch of juice with a bad taste and smell, making it unsuitable for sale.

In maize and soybeans, feeding damage can stop seed development. Damage to nuts include nut abortion, shrivelled kernels and kernel necrosis. The BMSB juvenile or nymphal stages cause the most damage.

Ornamental trees such as Tree of Heaven, Princess tree, English holly, Magnolia and Chinese pistachio have been observed to be preferential hosts for BMSB. Overseas, red sorghum and sunflower have been used as trap crops as they are tall, brightly coloured and have seeds that are a good protein source. 

Buildings and vegetation, including wild and ornamental plants provide refuge for adults during winter, which are a source of re-infestation for nearby crops. Once established in a cropping situation, effective control is difficult.

Nuisance pest

BMSB is not a risk to human health but is regarded a nuisance pest. Before the arrival of winter, bugs can be found in large numbers seeking shelter from cold weather in crevices or protected areas in homes, buildings, vehicles and machinery. It has a foul smelling odour when crushed or disturbed.