A Guide to Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB)

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is an agricultural pest that our team at Urban Hawks is regularly tasked with dealing with. We offer Brown Marmorated Stink Bug shipping container fumigation services across the UK to ensure that countries such as Australia and New Zealand, where this pest is not native to are not affected by this problematic species.

To help you understand more about The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, we have created this comprehensive guide to discuss what they are, how to identify them, the problems they cause and how to manage this pest species.

What are they?

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) is a seasonal hitchhiker pest species that travels on shipping containers and cargo to countries it is not native to around the globe. This bug that originates from China, Japan, Korea and other Asian regions poses a serious biosecurity threat throughout the year.

The stink bug only takes 35 days to grow into an adult, and both the young and fully grown brown marmorated stink bugs feed on over 100 different species of plants. Unfortunately, this includes many agricultural crops, which has caused them to become a costly pest over time. There are many examples of the agricultural and financial damage caused by this pest, but one of the most notable instances was in 2010 when $37 million was lost in the USA from destroyed apple crops, with some stone fruit growers losing more than 90% of their crops.

Brown Marmorated Stink bugs have become a seasonal pest and have established themselves in the US, UK, Europe and South America in recent years. As a result, shipping containers often have to be fumigated to reduce the spread of the species, which can produce 200 eggs in its lifetime, outpacing any of its natural predators.

How to identify brown marmorated stink bugs

Identifying a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is relatively easy as they have a distinctive ‘shield’ shaped body. Fully grown stink bugs will be approximately 17mm long and a mottled brown/grey colour. Its abdominal segments will often be seen protruding from under the wings and is brown with black and white alternating bands. The underneath of the bugs can be white with grey or black markings and have brown legs that sometimes have a white banding.

Fully grown stink bugs can easily blend into bark and vegetation, but the younger species will be more noticeable. They will range between 2-12mm in size and be more brightly coloured, featuring a lot of red, yellow and black markings.

The eggs of this species can often be found on the underside of leaves and will be easily disguised being white/light green. Most stink bugs will lay around 28 eggs at one time, and they will be circular shaped.

As the name suggests, stink bugs can also be identified by their odour if they are disturbed or squashed. Many people have described the smell as similar to sulphur, rotten meat, a skunk or coriander.

Where did the brown marmorated stink bug come from?

The brown marmorated stink bug originates from Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea, but with globalisation, it has never been easier for this pest species to migrate worldwide. In the late 1990s, the stink bug was discovered in the United States and since then has made its way across the country. In recent years, these bugs have also been found in the UK and Europe.

Why is the brown marmorated stink bug a problem?

These odorous bugs may seem relatively harmless and more of a nuisance, but they have become a serious problem for the agricultural industry across the world. The damage they cause to crops and plants such as peaches, apples, berries, figs, citrus fruits, corn, tomatoes, peppers, beans and ornamental plants is unprecedented. These bugs plunge their beaks into the crops and extract all the nutrition, leaving them irreparably damaged. They are left looking puckered and lifeless, completely inedible and unable to be marketed.

When left unchecked, these stink bugs can wipe out entire harvests, and the agricultural industry as a whole ends up losing millions. They are quick to grow to full size and can reproduce even faster, making them a serious threat to the industry. With no natural predators, the brown marmorated stink bug is a growing threat and countries across the globe are continuing to work on solutions to this destructive pest.

Are they dangerous? 

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are not dangerous to people, pets or properties, but they can be unpleasant if they enter your property or vehicle. The glands between their legs emit an odour that many liken to eggs and rotten meat, and this smell can often be spread throughout a property when threatened, crushed or handled.

Whilst they are not generally known to bite people, some predatory species of stink bug can bite when handled. This can hurt, but thankfully, they are not poisonous, and the only real risk is if the skin is exposed to the odorous liquid they emit when threatened. This can, on occasion, cause a burning sensation on the skin but generally, stink bugs are harmless and seen as more of a smelly pest that is only dangerous to agriculture.

How to get rid of the brown marmorated stink bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug exists year-round, but they are more likely to be sighted during the warmer spring and summer months. If you do spot stink bugs, it is essential that you deal with them as soon as possible, particularly if they are near a cargo port, in factories or vehicles. These bugs will often take shelter in the autumn/ winter months in these places.

If an infestation has developed, it is always advisable to seek out the services of a licenced, professional Shipping Container BMSB Fumigation Service to assess and evaluate the problem.

To effectively eliminate the brown marmorated stink bug, we are approved to use the pressurised gas fumigant Sulfuryl Fluoride for container and under sheet treatments. Both Australia and New Zealand have authorised Urban Hawks to use this treatment to deal with this pest problem on cargo and shipping containers headed for these countries.

Get in touch

Urban Hawks are proud to offer a range of fumigations services, including Shipping Container BMSB Fumigation throughout the UK. It is common practice for exporting countries to have goods fumigated, and our team can treat goods in containers or under sheets across the country with a 12-24 hour turnaround.

If you are concerned about Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs on your cargo or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our team. With over 25 years, we are happy to answer any questions you may have and help you find the right solution to your pest problem.

If you would like to find out more about our UK Fumigation Services or have any questions, speak with our team today on 0151 345 6854 or email us at info@urbanhawks.co.uk.