Stink bugs: What you need to know


These hitch hikers do not limit their travel to Australia via fruit or vegetables from overseas. Stink bugs (sometimes called ‘shield bugs’) can be found in both passenger luggage and packing material. They are nuisance pests that escape northern hemisphere cool climates and seek protection in shipping containers, personal stored items, vehicles and machinery.

When is the season for stink bugs?

Between the months of September and April, the Australian Government of Agriculture and Water Resources declare this to be ‘stink bug season’. The department ramp up their treatment and inspection of goods received from Europe, Asia and the USA, both by freight and travellers. Fumigation is the recommended method to treat containers, ships and commodities to prevent the introduction and spread of stink bugs in Australia.

Why are stink bugs a pest?

Stink bugs cause significant damage to vegetable crops, fruit and ornamental trees. They threaten agricultural crops including citrus, nuts, berries, grains and soybean. Not only do they consume these products, their saliva causes damage to the plant tissues.

The good news is, they do not bite or sting people and will not cause structural damage to properties.

Stink bugs… really? What on earth do they smell like?

Their foul smell is frequently described as ‘dirty socks’ or ‘cilantro/coriander’. This mysterious pungent odour is their main defence mechanism against predators.  The alkaline chemical combination carries subtle hints of the citrus plants they have been consuming. This smell often occurs if the stink bugs are handled or if they are crushed.

What do these stowaways look like?

The most common type of stink bug that residents and business owners detect is the Brown Marmorated stink bug species. They range in length between 12 to 17 mm, are mottled brown in colour and have a shield-shaped appearance. A comprehensive identification guide can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

Where will I find stink bugs?

Stink bugs often cluster outside of a home in the warmer seasons but will search for hiding places within a home as the weather cools. It’s best to check for any cracks, torn fly screens and ensuring that all gaps are sealed to exteriors.

What do I do if I spot them?

For any unusual sightings, report this to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. When it comes to stink bug control and prevention methods are needed to ensure they are removed and kept away.

If you do find them in your home, remove both live and dead stink bugs with a vacuum cleaner and empty your vacuum immediately, or alternatively sweep them up using a broom and dustpan and dispose them in an outdoor garbage bin.



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