Updated: Mar 9
NOT present in New Zealand
Shaped like a shield, adult BMSB are brown on top and light tan on the underside. They have distinctive bands of white on the legs and antennae and alternating dark and light spots around the abdomen. They are about the size of a NZ 10-cent piece
Do they stink? Yes! They emit a scent as a defence mechanism against being eaten by birds or lizards. If you touch or squash a BMSB, it might release this distinctive (but not harmful) odour, which some people say smells like cilantro/coriander.
This highly invasive pest feeds voraciously on fruit, legumes and leaves during the warm seasons, and females can produce upwards of 150 eggs per week. In the winter they will seek out a good warm dry spot, such as your house, outbuildings or stored vehicles, and when they find it, they will send out an “aggregation signal” - a chemical that acts as a locator beacon for other individuals to join them.
Strict measures are taken at borders to prevent the entry of BMSB into New Zealand. BMSB are excellent hitchhikers and could enter the country in imported cargo or even in suitcases with personal goods. Individual insects are caught every year at the border, but no populations have been established in NZ
Established populations in New Zealand would be very difficult and expensive to control as it is not easily controlled by pesticides. BMSB was first discovered in America in 2001 and has spread readily since then, causing millions of dollars of damage to crops and in control costs.