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Hort NZ warns against stink bug and fruit flyAt this time of year, our top biosecurity threats are the brown marmorated stink bug and fruit fly; this is when they are most likely to arrive in New Zealand and attempt to take up residence.
"We can eradicate fruit flies if we get them early enough, although this is very expensive. We are not sure whether or not we can eradicate infestations of brown marmorated stink bug, and we certainly do not have the tools to eradicate large infestations of the brown marmorated stink bug. If it arrives, spreads and gets established, it is most likely here to stay, and it is much worse than fruit fly," writes Mike Chapman, CEO of Horticulture New Zealand.
The brown marmorated stink bug will eat most vegetables and the leaves of fruit trees in home gardens, as well as many commercially grown fruit and vegetables. Once it’s finished eating its way through our gardens and crops, it likes to spend the winter in nice dark spaces; the eaves and walls of houses are one of the favourite spots, and once disturbed it will give off a horrid smell (hence the name). The arrival of the brown marmorated stink bug would be a total disaster for New Zealand economically, environmentally, and even socially. We have to keep it out of the country, and do our best to deal with any small populations before they become uncontrollable.
"We are asking everyone in New Zealand to be on the lookout for brown marmorated stink bug and fruit flies. If you see what you think is a brown marmorated stink bug or a fruit fly, catch it, take a picture of it and report it ASAP on 0800 80 99 66. See the poster below for identification."
The brown marmorated stink bug is spreading throughout Europe, and taking hold in the US. Research is ongoing to establish all the pathways by which it can enter New Zealand, how we can protect ourselves from its arrival, better surveillance and detection capabilities, and work on how to control it if it does get in; a biocontrol agent is currently being approved for release in New Zealand should the brown marmorated stink bug ever arrive.
"For now, the key action you can take is to report any potential sightings, and maintain constant vigilance."
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Publication date: 1/11/2017
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