WELLINGTON, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor Tuesday warned travelling New Zealanders to be vigilant as the high-season for the crop-eating brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is under way.
New Zealand government reminded that stink bugs, known to feed heavily on a wide variety of plant species, would attack grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus, stone fruit, corn, and many other valuable crops. Crops and gardens could be devastated. Agriculture is a major industry in New Zealand, contributing approximately 5 percent or 10.6 billion New Zealand dollars to the country's Gross Domestic Product.
"We're on high alert to stop BMSB arriving in NZ. The high season runs until April 30 and we've strengthened our measures to stop stink bug establishing itself here," O'Connor said.
"It's an especially timely reminder for those travelling to Rugby World Cup matches. A recent swarm of green stink bug and yellow spotted stink bug have occurred in Kobe, Japan. Biosecurity NZ staff based there will continue to ensure we have the right measures in place. We want to keep the risk offshore as much as possible
"It's a sneaky pest that we've caught at the border many times, hitchhiking on passengers and in imported goods. They're a damaging economic pest and a significant household nuisance
"In the past few months we've increased the number of additional BMSB risk countries from 16 to 33 and we've upped our mandatory pre-arrival treatment requirements for targeted vehicles, machinery and parts."
O'Connor said Biosecurity NZ was working more closely with its Australian counterparts to identify risk offshore and co-ordinate their actions.
"We're also sending Biosecurity NZ staff overseas to visit and audit treatment providers, shippers and freight forwarders in Europe.
"Elsewhere, we've made it clear to all cruise ship operators that they have to show they've taken measures to prevent pests arriving here by using our accreditation system and we're working on hi-tech scanning equipment to find the bug in luggage and mail," O'Connor said.
There were three dogs trained specifically to find stink bugs in New Zealand. (1 New Zealand dollar equals 0.63 U.S. dollar)