Heightened awareness for hitchhiking pests

28 April 2020

People are being encouraged to keep an eye out for hitchhiking exotic pests now that the country heads into a new alert level and many more goods are moving again.

“We’re asking everyone to look out for anything unusual they might notice in parcels and packages so that we find unwanted pests early” says Kiwifruit Vine Health Chief Executive, Stu Hutchings.

“The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) in particular is a big biosecurity threat and even though we’re nearing the end of the most risky time of year for these bugs, they could still be hiding out in new-to-New Zealand parcels or non-essential items that have been in containers or storage while we were at Alert Level 4.”

The BMSB is a major concern to the kiwifruit industry and other primary industry groups because it can destroy fruit and vegetable crops and is also a significant public nuisance that will readily invade and infest people’s homes and outdoor spaces in large numbers, making it one of the top most unwanted pests that every New Zealander will want to keep out of our country.

“The impact from these bugs could be huge for the kiwifruit industry and the Bay of Plenty. In Italy, the bugs have been found to cause up to 40% drop in kiwifruit prior to harvest. This could wipe income of growers and across the horticultural sector the impact on GDP could be in the billions.”

Stu adds that the kiwifruit industry is pleased the local Biosecurity New Zealand team have continued to work with Transitional Facilities in the area (where biosecurity goods are held and inspected before being cleared) during the lockdown period.

“There are facilities that have remained open to manage the throughput of cargo and we know Biosecurity New Zealand have been busy interacting with them about biosecurity risk and the necessity to maintain high standards. There will be an increase in risk goods being discharged or unloaded as we shift levels, all of which will continue to be inspected.”

“There is never zero risk however, which is why we also need the public’s eyes and ears at the delivery end of the chain – they’re key to finding unwelcome hitchhikers quickly enough to be able to do something about them and make sure they don’t then spread throughout the community and onto orchards.”

“If you’ve seen any kind of pest or bug that you don’t recognise and think looks unusual, catch it, snap it and report it by calling the Biosecurity New Zealand hotline on 0800 80 99 66.”

For more information:
Stu Hutchings, KVH Chief Executive, 027 478 7901
Lisa Gibbison, Communications Advisor, 022 025 4724