Brown marmorated stink bug is a serious horticultural pest native to East Asia. It damages crops, infests ornamental plants, and seeks out shelter over the winter causing massive problems for homes and businesses. Fortunately we don’t have it in New Zealand yet, but in order to keep it out we need to know what it looks like. In this post I show you how to tell it apart from other New Zealand stink bugs.
First an important reminder: If you believe you may have found BMSB the best thing to do is to catch the bug, keep it alive, and call MPI on 0800 80 99 66.
When entomologists talk about ‘bugs,’ generally they mean the Hemiptera, a group of insects that share sucking mouthparts. Within the Hemiptera, stink bugs are members of the family Pentatomidae. Stink bugs are not beetles, they are ‘true bugs.’
In New Zealand we have 8 species of stink bug:
1. Cermatulus nasalis (made up of three subspecies)
Brown soldier bug – Cermatulus nasalis nasalis
Alpine brown soldier bug – Cermatulus nasalis hudsoni
Three Kings soldier bug – Cermatulus nasalis turbotti
2. Schellenberg’s soldier bug – Oechalia schellenbergii
3. Brown shield bug – Dictyotus caenosus
4. Pittosporum shield bug – Monteithiella humeralis
5. Alpine shield bug – Hypsithocus hudsonae
6. Green vegetable bug – Nezara viridula
7. Australasian green shield bug – Glaucias amyoti
8. Green potato bug – Cuspicona simplex
First up, lets have a look at BMSB:
Two New Zealand species look similar to brown marmorated stink bug. These are Cermatulus nasalis and Dictyotus caenosus.
The key characters to look for when separating these two species from BMSB are a combination of size, banding and colouration.
Here is a side by side comparison of BMSB (on the left) with Cermatulus nasalis:
This species is the one most likely to be confused with BMSB, and it’s no wonder when you try to compare them above.
The white banding present on the antennae of BMSB is the most obvious way to separate these species, but BMSB is also a little bit larger (19mm long vs 17mm), and coloured slightly differently to Cermatulus nasalis.
Here is a side by side comparison of BMSB (on the left) with Dictyotus caenosus:
Again, the white banding on the antennae can be used to immediately separate these species. But you can also see that Dictyotus caenosus has a more pronounced notch in the top of the head and behind the eyes, than BMSB. Dictyotus caenosus is also quite a bit smaller, normally around 10mm long.
These two species are the ones most likely to be confused with BMSB in New Zealand.
But remember: If you do find a stink bug and you’re not sure what it is, the best thing to do is to catch the bug, keep it alive, and call MPI on 0800 80 99 66. Better to be safe than sorry with BMSB.