The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has introduced new treatment requirements to stop brown marmorated stink bugs arriving into New Zealand in sea containers from Italy.
All sea containers from Italy now require treatment for the invasive pest before arriving in New Zealand or on arrival.
"The new measure is a response to the increasing number of stink bug detections MPI officers are making at the border in cargo from Italy," says Paul Hallett, MPI's biosecurity and environment manager.
"We want to reduce the chance of this nasty bug getting into New Zealand"
Imported containers from Italy had previously been subject to auditing and inspection by biosecurity officers but did not require treatment unless they carried vehicles or machinery, or there was evidence of contamination.
"Extending the treatment requirement to all shipping containers from Italy will add another layer of biosecurity protection," says Mr Hallett.
So far this season, MPI officers have intercepted more stink bugs from Italy than any other country (39 out of 80 interceptions). The largest single find involved 118 dead bugs in a container of machinery and parts.
The treatment requirements will last until the end February. They will be reviewed prior to the start of next season in September.
Brown marmorated stink bugs are a significant agricultural pest and household nuisance in the United States. They have recently established in Italy and appear to be spreading through Europe, causing losses for commercial growers.