12 Apr 2018

Agency wants samurai wasp ready in case stink bugs invade

7:01 pm on 12 April 2018

Industry and government agencies are planning a pre-emptive strike on the brown marmorated stink bug should it reach New Zealand shores.

A female Brown Marmorated stink bug.

A female brown marmorated stink bug. Photo: Supplied

Horticultural industry groups along with the Ministry for Primary Industries are working together to use the tiny samurai wasp to combat the bug.

They have made an application to the Environmental Protection Authority, seeking approval to release the wasp as a biocontrol agent , but only if a stink bug incursion is found in New Zealand.

Four ships carrying cars have were ordered to leave New Zealand earlier this year because they had the stink bug on board.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Council spokesperson Alan Pollard said the stink bug poses one of the largest risk biosecurity threats to New Zealand, and is often detected at the border.

"It feeds on over 300 plant species and can multiply and get to very high population numbers rapidly, destroying crops and gardens and even get into your home.

"In the US and Europe, where the invasive pest has become established, it has caused severe damage to the horticulture industries. It's also invaded residents' homes and become a real social nuisance," he said.

The wasp does not sting and is harmless to humans but is a natural enemy of the stink bug. The female wasp lays her eggs inside the stink bug's eggs, killing the insect in the process.

Mr Pollard said studies overseas have shown the wasp can destroy over 70 percent of the eggs in a stink bug egg mass.

The Environmental Protection Authority is consulting with the public on the application.

Submissions are open until 5pm, Thursday, 24 May 2018.

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