A serious threat to wine

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) could devastate New Zealand’s wine industry if it becomes established here. BMSB is found in Asia, notably China, Japan and Korea. In recent times it has aggressively invaded the US and is now established in 40 states. Infestations of the bug have been found in ships carrying second-hand card from Asia. Several ships have been turned back after BMSB were found but the risk that the bug could jump ship and devastate a broad range of crops, including grapevines, remains high.

What does it look like?

Adults are approximately 1.7 cm long, with a distinctive brown “shield” shape. The underside is white/tan, legs and antennae are brown with white banding.

How could it get here?

The adults naturally tend towards cracks and crevices to shelter from the environment in the winter months and may find their way into loaded containers for import into New Zealand. The insect has also spread through the transport of personal effects and housewares. It may also find its way into luggage and mail.

How does it affect wine?

Research suggests that five or more bugs in a bunch of grapes will significantly reduce yield by 37% and could contaminate wine with the bugs strong aroma, described as “green, cilantro-like” characters. I’m only guessing, but that sounds like the strong smell that anyone who has crushed a green stink bug might have experienced.

What can you do?

Horticulturalists and home gardeners: Report any suspect finds to the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries on 0800 80 99 66. If possible photograph and/or collect samples. Catch it and call them.

I live directly opposite Auckland’s wharf area where car-carrying ships unload. I’ll certainly be bug hunting.

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