The invasive brown marmorated stink bug is on the move. Already a serious horticultural pest in North America and Europe, it has yet to establish in New Zealand.
And the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is on high alert to try and keep it that way.
MPI response adviser Catherine Duthie says now is the time in the Northern Hemisphere when the insect is looking for a safe place to over winter.
So it is likely to hole up in containers and machinery destined for warmer climes. In this way it can reach New Zealand in numbers that are major concern.
It looks very similar to the green vege bug that many will find in their gardens - except that it’s brown and stinks.
“It’s quite unpleasant and one of the big problems with this bug is it’s a severe horticultural pest, but it also likes to invade peoples’ homes.
“So it’s a problem for all of New Zealand should it get in.”
So far none have been found in New Zealand, but Ms Duthie says many have been detected at the border.
“It is spreading quickly overseas, though it’s been in the United States for a number of years, but it’s becoming quite a serious problem throughout the east and west coast and heading up into Canada.
“It’s just recently reached Europe spreading quite rapidly throughout Italy becoming a horticultural and social nuisance pest there.”
If you find one it will most likely be in your garden, she says.
“When they reach New Zealand they’ll be in their overwintering state, but it takes about two weeks of summertime conditions and then they get ready to mate and feed on your fruit and veges.
“They’re not picky, they’ll eat almost everything.”
Call MPI on 0800 80 99 66 to report any sightings.