Samurai to slay stink bug

11 April 2018

Industry and government agencies are planning a pre-emptive strike on the Brown marmorated stink bug.

They have applied to us to release an organism new to New Zealand – the Samurai wasp – to combat any Brown marmorated stink bug invasion. We are seeking public submissions on this application.

Image of brown marmorated stink bug. Image credit: Milen Marinov

The applicant – the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Council – includes groups representing the avocado, apple and pear, kiwifruit, tomato, vegetable, and wine industries and MPI. 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 a report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research shows commercial crops at risk from the stink bug have an annual sales value of $4 billion. They include pipfruit and summerfruit.

The Council says the stink bug poses one of the highest risk biosecurity threats to New Zealand, and is often detected at the border. If the stink bug successfully breaches our biosecurity system and establishes, it will be very hard to eradicate, the Council says. Enter the Samurai wasp.

Biological control by the wasp is likely to 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. Rapid release of a squadron of wasps is critical to successful eradication, so the Council is seeking pre-emptive approval, so wasps can be launched as soon as the balloon goes up.

Public submissions open on 11 April 2018 and close at 5pm on 31 May 2018.

All the information about this proposal, and links to the submission form can be found in our public consultations section, or at the link below.

Application details and information

(Image credits: Stink bug on corn, Phill Sherring MPI; Single stink bug, Milen Marinov MPI)