A stink bug which emits an appalling smell and has already infested homes in China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States is set to imminently make its way across to Britain – as the Government’s Food and Research Agency issues a warning.
The odious bug, a member of the insect family known as the Brown Marmorated Stink bug (BMSB) and sometimes just known as the straight forward ‘stink bug’, was accidentally introduced to the United States back in September 1998. It is technically considered to be an agricultural pest and its secret weapon is the stink glands located on the underside of the thorax. As an adult, they typically grow to 1.7cm long.
The ability to emit a pungent odour, considered extremely unpleasant to the human nose, is a defence mechanism to prevent it from being eaten by birds and lizards. No birds or lizards are required to activate it, sadly, as simply handling it, moving it or injuring it will activate the pong.
In the space of about 12 years, the accidental importing of this bug from the Far East to America has resulted in it spreading to over 40 US states and now two bugs have been intercepted on imported timber in Britain – the same method believed to have allowed them to travel to the US from Asia. The insects have been spotted in both France and Italy and experts have advised that they will inevitably invade Britain.
Traditionally the bug comes into peoples homes in the Autumn and Winter. The extra heat inside the home, however, sometimes prevents the bug from hibernating and results in an active population inside the property. Just what you need over the Christmas period.
An expert from London’s Natural History Museum recently commented:
“I think the brown marmorated stink bug will establish a population here. It is only a matter of time.”
Perhaps even more worrying, Chris Malumphy, senior entomologist at the UK government’s Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) told the magazine Horticulture Week:
“We have done a risk assessment. There is evidence the bug would be able to establish in the south of England.
“In North America, it reaches plague proportions and there are records of hundreds or even a thousand in people’s houses.
“I don’t expect plague proportions here but they make an evil, repellent odour to ward off predators, so a large number of bugs coming into your house is a rather compelling public nuisance.”
The Government’s Food and Environment Research Agency is warning people to check imported plants and containers for any sign of the pests and advises that the bug could well become a public nuisance in the UK.