Visiting European experts share BMSB knowledge and tools
Yesterday at Plant and Food’s Te Puke Research Centre, two European Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) experts shared accounts of research that is currently underway in Italy to achieve sustainable control of this invasive pest.
KVH staff joined local scientists, growers and other stakeholders at the presentation by Professor Gianfranco Anfora and Dr Anna Eriksson from Fondazione Edmund Mach in Italy.
Their research group has developed a citizen science biosecurity mapping app called “BugMap” to track the spread and densities of BMSB. The success of “BugMap” in Italy has led to the adoption of the app by chocolatier Ferrero Rocher in Georgia, a country where these bugs are now affecting hazel nut supply. Their growers are able to use the app to make reports and see the spread of the pest in real time.
The smartphone app has so far had over 2000 reports from citizens, and because they come in all year round, experts have been able to use the data to create prediction models of future spread which they can also share with users.
Professor Anfora highlighted the impact of BMSB during the presentation, noting there has been rapid spread of the pest in Italy and expected losses as a result are around NZD$1b for 2019 alone. He noted they are seeing impacts to both gold and green kiwifruit, and he believes gold appears to be more susceptible.
In terms of monitoring tools, researchers have been making design improvements to the various traps they use - including a new kind using a wind tunnel effect, which has so far been found to catch 15 times more BMSB than standard sticky base traps with the same lure. Watch a short video from the research team showing these traps in action here.
Like New Zealand, the Italians are very interested in the use biocontrol, with the Samurai Wasp as the organism of choice. The wasp has been known to parasitize up to 80% of BMSB eggs and is highly active all season, making it one of the most promising control options. The Samurai Wasp, and other parasitoids have been recently detected in Italy and a very new Italian law now permits the release of exotic antagonists and there is an application underway seeking permission to be able to release the wasp in Italy to help control BMSB populations (in August 2018 the New Zealand horticulture industry welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority’s decision allowing the release of the wasp into New Zealand, if ever there was an incursion of the BMSB).
Experience from countries where the invasive BMSB is present is highly valuable to the kiwifruit industry, and New Zealand, in preventing and controlling any potential outbreaks. Information sharing builds on the knowledge KVH, Zespri, and the kiwifruit industry can use as we continue to formulate short and long-term plans for how we would respond to and manage a BMSB incursion on our orchards. Read more about our most updated plans here.