Wednesday April 18, 2018
Brown bugs are kicking up a stink
A brown marmorated stink bug. PHOTO: Google Images
The Ministry of Primary Industries is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on the lookout for brown marmorated stink bugs. While it has not become established here, it has already been caught at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods. The ministry is asking for public help, saying the bugs are hard to see, hard to kill, travel far and breed fast, so quick action will be needed to get rid of them if they arrive. In the USA and Europe the stink bug has caused severe economic damage to horticultural crops, and has invaded homes during the cold winter months.
The Stink Bug Council says the bug poses one of the highest biosecurity threats to New Zealand. A report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research shows commercial crops at risk have an annual sales value of $4 billion. They include pipfruit and summerfruit. Industry and government agencies are planning a pre-emptive strike. They have applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to release an organism new to New Zealand – the Samurai wasp – to combat any invasion. The EPA is seeking public submissions on this application. Biological control by the wasp is said to likely be the most effective
long-term, sustainable and socially acceptable means available, the council says. The alternative, used overseas, is increased use of broad-spectrum insecticides, often at high application rates. The Samurai wasp doesn’t sting and is harmless to humans, but attacks and kills stink bug eggs. The trigger point for releasing the wasp would be detection of a stink bug invasion or an established population. T h e c o u n c i l i s s e e king pre- emptive approva l, so wasps can be launched as soon as the balloon goes up. Public submissions close at 5pm on May 24.
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Independent Herald 18-04-18