Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSM)

10/2022 Issue: Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

By: Steven Granzow


Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs – Remarkable Regimen for crescively commonplace pests.

The gradual and seemingly spontaneous growth of this insect’s population through the United States, and so many other countries in North America, South America, Europe, Eurasia, and further through Asia from where it originally hailed. Halyomorpha halys, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is a perfect example of what makes an invasive species in that it thrives well outside of its original ecosystem causing harm to the environment, economy, or people’s health. Like so many other invasive species this is a byproduct of a global economy and as technologies in transportation of people and goods become more readily available so does the potential risk of an invasive species gaining a foothold in a new part or parts of our world.

There are plenty of examples of trade going back to ancient times, but the most notable increase in trade came around 4800 BCE with the domestication of horses in central Asia allowing traders to travel farther faster promoting trade routes to develop over the next 3000 years. Around 3000 BCE Egyptians began developing ships used for cargo. Large boats for this time were starting around 75 feet long and no wider than a pontoon boat, were being used to cross seas, and within 1500 years developed into 170 ft long vessels much sturdier for the conditions with a significantly greater capacity. While these were remarkable advancements for the time, nothing compares to the development in the last 300 years. Development of massive vessels dedicated to the movement of previously unmatched volumes of goods in bulk in 1852. 1911 marked the year that planes were used to carry mail in bulk, and by the 1920s developed into dedicated Cargo transportation. Most recently, the standardized shipping container was invented in 1956 to refine the process of getting goods from truck to rail, to sea, reducing ships times at port by up to 3 weeks.

The nearly global spread of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is certainly tied to these developments. With the US the BMSB was originally documented in Pennsylvania in 1998 and has been documented in all the lower 48 states with the exception of South Dakota and Wyoming by March of 2021. 7 states reporting them as nuisance pests, 14 states reporting agricultural concerns and nuisance pests, and 12 states reporting Severe agricultural problems because of the BMSB populations.

Proactive measures for the BMSB prevention in Australia and New Zealand were implemented in 2016 requiring only a 6-hour fumigation at high concentrations. These early protocols were implemented in short order, marking tremendous effort to hinder the process greatly for goods heading to that part of the globe. In the following years many changes including lengthening of exposure windows, more strict temperature requirements, increased auditing practices, intense documentation requirements, and eventually a very in depth vetting process to ensure that United states fumigation companies and their employees dealing in the treatment of containers for the BMSB schedule were individually approved by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries before conducting approved treatments for the specified season. Specifically, the vetting process separating “Approved Offshore Treatment Providers” for BMSB regulations compared to other export fumigation companies, is a challenging and unique process. The required specific detail of the reporting, the testing and application stages, and the short window for submissions are designed to separate the accurate from the inaccurate in a way that is unmatched in many other export lanes. For companies like FSS this is a welcome level of oversite, allowing the destination country the ability to trust and verify the treatments, and in determining accountability for failure. Doing it right and doing it often has become the standard. The burden on the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries to audit and approve all potential treatment providers is a constantly growing and changing task as well. As goods arrive and populations of the BMSB are found inside of containers, more countries of origin are added, and more exported goods become “target goods”. The effort to prevent the establishment of BMSB populations in Australia and New Zealand is one of unmatched proportions. It is a fantastic program that continues to report improved results annually.