Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys)

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PLANT PEST

Brown marmorated stink bug

Exotic to Australia

Life form: Insect
Origin: East Asia
Distribution: East Asia, North America and Europe
Features: Shield shape, adults are mottled reddish-brown,
white bands on antennae, legs, and rear margin of body
Pathways: Hitchhiker on imported goods, vessels and aircrafts
At risk: Over 300 agricultural and ornamental plants


Brown marmorated stink bugs pose a high biosecurity risk to Australia because of their tendency to hitchhike, highly mobile nature and the lack of effective lures.

If it established in Australia, this pest would be extremely difficult and expensive to manage, partly due to its broad host range. Preventing an incursion in the first place is a high priority for government and industry, and we need your help.

See if you can identify the pest

Everyone needs to keep an eye out for brown marmorated stink bugs.

Before the arrival of winter, brown marmorated stink bugs can be found in large numbers seeking shelter from cold weather in crevices or protected areas of:

  • buildings
  • boats
  • caravans
  • machinery
  • personal stored items
  • shipping containers
  • vehicles.

They are more frequently found on goods arriving in Australia between September and April, coinciding with the late autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere.

If brown marmorated stink bugs were present in Australia, we could expect it to typically aggregate from April and emerge from sheltered sites from late September.

Australia has many native stink bugs which can look similar to the brown marmorated stink bug.

Adult brown marmorated stink bugs:

  • are 12 to 17 mm long
  • have a distinctive brown ‘shield’ shape.
  • have a variable in body colour, but generally mottled with a faint reddish tinge and distinctive black and white banding around the outer edge of the abdomen.

While there are species of stink bugs in Australia that may look similar, adult brown marmorated stink bugs have distinctive white bands on the last two antennal segments.

  • Juveniles or nymphs are similar to the adults except they are smaller, between 2.4 to 12 mm long, and do not have fully developed wings.
  • Young nymphs have a dark head with an orange abdomen and red with black stripes around the outer edges and down the centre.
  • Older nymphs are similar but often darker, with some small lateral spines around the front edge of the body, and the banding pattern on the legs and antennae beginning to appear.
Life stages of brown marmorated stink bug. Left to right: four nymphal stages (2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th instar). Image source: W. Hershberger. USDA, stopbmsb.org. Used with permission.
Life stages of the brown marmorated stink bug showing from left to right the four nymphal stages. As the insect progresses through its life cycle it increases with size and changes colour from dark head with orange abdomen to a faint redish tinge body with black and white banding.
Life stages of brown marmorated stink bug. Left to right: adult male & adult female. Image source: W. Hershberger. USDA, stopbmsb.org. Used with permission.
Life stages of the brown marmorated stink bug showing from left to right the adult male and female. As the insect progresses through its life cycle it increases with size and changes colour from dark head with orange abdomen to a faint redish tinge body with black and white banding.

Eggs are laid in clusters of 25 to 30 on the underside of leaves. They are light green to white in colour, and barrel-shaped.

Newly hatched 1st instar brown marmorated stink bug nymphs and empty egg cases. Image: David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ, bugwood.org. Used with permission
Newly hatched brown marmorated stink bug nymphs and their empty glassy egg cases that they have hatched out of. The 1st instar nymph stage is a tiny bug with dark head and orange body.

As with other stink bugs, this pest emits a characteristic and unpleasant odour when disturbed or crushed. Not only is their smell offensive but the pest has social and environmental consequences  as they aggregate in large numbers in people’s homes and feed on ornamental  and native trees and shrubs.

Importers and travellers

If you work around imported goods, you need to look for brown marmorated stink bugs on:

  • crates
  • machinery
  • shipping containers
  • vehicles.

If you have recently travelled from East Asia, North America or Europe, check for luggage and personal effects for stowaways like the brown marmorated stink bug.

Growers and home gardeners

Take action if you find a bug that looks like it could be brown marmorated stink bug.

Brown marmorated stink bug is a voracious feeder that damages vegetable crops, fruit and ornamental trees. It is known to feed on more than 300 hosts, including important agricultural crops, such as:

  • apples
  • beans
  • citrus
  • corn
  • figs
  • grapes
  • peaches
  • pears
  • raspberries
  • soybeans
  • some ornamental plants
  • tomatoes.

The juvenile or nymphal stages cause the most damage. On tree fruit, feeding injury can cause malformation, such as sunken areas and corky spots as the fruit develops, and premature fruit drop.

Similar damage occurs to fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes and capsicums. In maize and soybeans feeding damage can stop seed development. Buildings and vegetation, including wild and ornamental plants provide refuge for adults, which are a source of re-infestation for nearby crops.

The bug is not a risk to human health but it is regarded as a nuisance pest because it seeks sheltered places overwinter, often in large numbers.

Check what can legally come into Australia

All Australians and international tourists have a role to keep out exotic pests and diseases.

Brown marmorated stink bug is native to East Asia and has been introduced to the United States and parts of Western Europe. Australia remains free of this exotic pest. We need your help to keep it this way.

Check what you can and cannot bring into Australia, whether you are a:

Brown marmorated stink bugs are hitchhikers

Hitchhiker pests can arrive in Australia on goods, vessels or personal effects, and may be more common during certain times of the year.

Import restrictions and biosecurity measures

Some items, by law, are subject to certain import conditions to be allowed into Australia. Please check the Biosecurity Import Condition System (BICON).

Be aware of any brown marmorated stink bug biosecurity measures that may be in place for incoming goods and vessels. Industry advice notices are reviewed regularly and could change.

Secure any suspect specimens

Containment is critical.

The bug is a strong flier, covering distances of up to 2 km. Therefore, if it does get here, it is important to take immediate action. Try to contain the bug without disturbing it – this may be as simple as closing the doors on a shipping container.

If you suspect you have seen a brown marmorated stink bug, take a photo and report the location. Inspect the area where you found the bug and try to trace it to the source.

Report detections of exotic pests

Any detections of brown marmorated stink bug must be reported to the authorities.

Import community

If you receive or work around goods imported from overseas, including mail, you need to be vigilant to brown marmorated stink bug and other exotic pests.

If you see an unusual pest, secure the goods to limit the movement of the pest and immediately report it to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources SEE. SECURE. REPORT. Hotline 1800 798 636 or by using the online form.

Growers and home gardeners

If you see a brown marmorated stink bug or anything unusual, report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881. This will put you in touch with the Department of Primary Industries or agriculture in your state or territory.

When reporting your concern, you will be given advice on handling the specimen and what to do next until an officer can investigate.

Additional information

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