Our site is currently being updated and pages are changing regularly. We thank you for your patience during this transition and hope that you find our new site easy to use.

Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB)

Have you seen ‘brown marmorated stink bug’?

Be on the lookout for ‘brown marmorated stink bug’ and report it to Biosecurity Queensland.

Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling ‘brown marmorated stink bug’.

Call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

  • Caption: Brown marmorated stink bug adult. Rights (copyright information): David R. Lance
  • Caption: Brown marmorated stink bug eggs hatched. Rights (copyright information): David R. Lance

General information

Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is an exotic plant pest.

This insect is highly invasive and has spread to all Northern Hemisphere continents.

A significant threat to Australia’s agriculture because it has a wide host range, and can cause serious damage to a variety fruit and vegetable crops and to ornamental trees.

Can be present in very high numbers.  During cooler months, large numbers will seek shelter and ‘overwinter’ on and inside buildings, vehicles, shipping containers and industrial structures.

Description   

Adults

  • medium to large (12 – 17 mm long and 7 – 10 mm wide) insects
  • shield-shaped body
  • generally mottled brown in colour
  • alternating light and dark bands on the antennae, legs and the side margins of the abdomen.

Nymphs

  • 5 flightless nymph stages that range from less than 3 mm to 12 mm long
  • orange and black when they first hatch but quickly develop a similar colouration to the adults.

Eggs

  • laid in clusters of 25 to 30 on the underside of leaves
  • light green to white in colour
  • barrel-shaped
  • approximately 1.6mm long x 1.33 mm wide.

Can be confused with a number of other brown coloured stink bugs that are present in Australia. There is a comprehensive identification guide on the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

If in doubt, contact us on 13 25 23.

Distribution

Native to eastern Asia (China, Japan and Taiwan). It was introduced to North America in the mid-1990s and more recently to Europe, where it is rapidly becoming a serious pest.

It is not present in Australia, but is often found at the border by quarantine service agencies.

Lifecycle    

In the Northern Hemisphere, overwintering adults emerge from hibernation in early spring and can take 2 weeks to become sexually mature, providing they can access a suitable food source.

Females lay eggs on the underside of host plant leaves during summer. Eggs hatch 4 to 5 days later. Newly hatched nymphs begin to feed and undergo a series of moults until they become adults.

The number of generations (1 to 2) per year varies depending on climatic conditions; 2 generations have been reported during longer, warmer summers.

Crops affected

Brown marmorated stink bug is an important crop pest of apple, asparagus, bean, capsicum, citrus, cotton, cucumber, eggplant, grape, peach, pear, raspberry, soybean, tomato, corn, and some ornamental species.

Hosts      

Brown marmorated stink bug is polyphagous, which means that it has been reported to have a broad range of host plants including apple, apricot, asparagus, bean, beet, blackberry, blueberry, canola, cantaloupe, cabbage, capsicum, cassava, cedar, Celosia, cherry, chrysanthemum, citrus, coleus, comfrey, corn, cucumber, dahlia, dogwood, eggplant, elderberry, fig, grape, hibiscus, holly, honeysuckle, Jerusalem artichoke, jujube, kiwifruit, lilac, magnolia, Malabar spinach, maple, millet, mulberry, okra, nasturtium, Paulownia, pea, peach, pear, pecan, persimmon, plum, pumpkin, raspberry, rose, rye, soybean, squash, sunflower, tomato, viburnum, walnut, watermelon, wheat,  and zinnia, as well as a number of weed species. Some plants are affected more seriously by this insect than others.

Symptoms

Nymphs and adults use piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed. The insects feed on leaves, shoots, stems, and through the bark of some trees.

Both nymphs and adults prefer to feed on developing and ripe fruits and seeds. Feeding damage to fruit can result in sunken areas, corky spots and scarring. As the fruit develops, it may become discoloured and deformed.  Premature fruit drop can also occur.

In crops such as maize and soybean, feeding damage can result in shrunken seeds or can halt seed development.

Feeding can also damage plant vegetative tissues which can result in plant wilt and reduced vigour.

Impacts

Impacts of the pest include reduced crop yield and quality. Damage to fruit (scarring, deformity and discolouration) and seed can reduce yield and marketability.

Fruit used for juice extraction, such as grape, has been contaminated by insects hiding within bunches and being pressed with the fruit, resulting in tainted juice.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the insect seeks sheltered places to overwinter such as inside homes, vehicles, machinery or sheds; often in large numbers. As with other stink bugs, this pest emits an offensive odour when disturbed or crushed.

The insect is not a risk to human health.

Spread

Long distance spread is generally by cargo, shipping containers, vehicles and sea-faring vessels and can ‘hitchhike’ across countries and overseas.

Adults are strong fliers when temperatures rise above 20°C. They prefer mature fruit crops and will fly in search of a food source.

Its ability to hitchhike and fly, and feed on a wide range of plant hosts, enables it to rapidly spread and establish.

Risk period

Brown marmorated stink bugs can arrive in Australia on cargo and containers between September and April, coinciding with late autumn and winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you handle imported goods, look for brown marmorated stink bug and immediately report suspect bugs. This is the best way to prevent it from becoming established in Australia.

Monitoring and action

Inspect plants for the presence of adult bugs. They give off a strong, offensive odour when disturbed.

If you suspect you have seen a brown marmorated stink bug, take a photo of the pest if possible, and report the location to the DAF Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.  

If possible and safe to do so, secure the insect in a container and place it in the freezer.  This will quickly and humanely kill the insect and means that a reference specimen is available if needed to confirm its identification.

Quarantine restrictions

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has import conditions in place for goods arriving from countries where brown marmorated stink bug is present.