The stink bug first reached Germany in 2018

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News: All about the stink bug …

This immediately led to stricter import regulations for the Oceanic countries. Pest-tree transport of all export goods from Germany to Australia and New Zealand has been obligatory since 1 September 2018. This means that all freight – with the exception of food – has to be gas treated or heat treated. So the Port of Hamburg has rapidly developed a practical solution for pest control.


stink bug: why is it so important to have pest-free transport to Australia?

The brown marmorated stink bug, also known simply as the stink bug or BMSB, is a species that is not indigenous to Europe that has caused considerable crop failures since its arrival in 2004. This pest originates from East Asia and often forms large clusters in freight containers. It distributes itself all over the world through international shipping.

The BMSB was first found in Switzerland in 2004 and was confirmed in Italy in 2012, from where it has rapidly spread northwards. It was first discovered in Germany in 2018. The stink bug damages ornamental plants, fruit trees and gardens, which then leads to crop failures. It is harmless to people, however.

But the marmorated stink bug poses a high threat to biosecurity for Australia and can have a serious impact on its agricultural industry. This is because it would threaten over 300 ornamental and agricultural plants. These bugs feed on fruit and vegetable crops and can cause considerable damage. It makes the crops unsaleable or severely reduces production yields. Adult BMSBs can also be a nuisance when they nest in vehicles, buildings and factories to protect themselves over winter.

If this pest settled in Australia it would be extremely difficult and expensive to combat due to the wide range of host plants there. That is why prevention of any invasion of the stink bug has a high priority for governments and industry and pest-free transport to Australia is being accelerated by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

How is pest-free transport to Australia ensured?


Gas treatment for goods

Companies that specialise in pest control at the Port of Hamburg fumigate containers with sulfuryl fluoride gas. This is an odourless and colourless gas that is effectively deployed to destroy stink bugs. All containers are opened before the treatment to check whether the declared goods are really located in there. To ensure that the goods themselves are not damaged, the most suitable location for introducing the gas is chosen when each container is opened. As the gas is heated to around 110°C, the container is heated before fumigation when the outside temperatures are cold. The treatment of the containers takes place on seven days a week, with 100 to 150 containers fumigated in a single weekend. This guarantees pest-free transport to Australia and New Zealand for sea freight shipments


Heat treatment for vehicles

A subsidiary of the Port of Hamburg has developed a globally unique technology for preparing vehicles for pest-free transport to Australia and New Zealand. This involves converting 40-foot refrigeration containers into heated containers. It is a flexible, mobile and environmentally friendly solution that is also attracting great interest outside Hamburg.

The vehicles are heat treated for several hours at over 50°C. Three probes are used to determine whether the minimum temperature has been reached throughout the vehicle, from below the bonnet to under the foot mats. It is the only way to guarantee pest-free transport to Australia.


stink bug – more information:

Refrigeration containers have the ideal dimensions for vehicles, are well insulated and permeable to the air. They can also be deployed in a highly flexible way. As each container is heated in a way that works best for each vehicle type. Refrigeration containers are easily available and save space as they can be stacked. Such containers can also be converted back into normal refrigeration containers. These are all advantages over the construction of expensive warehouse space.


In spite of the not inconsiderable additional work and expense, with the aid of these methods, pest-free sea transport to Australia and New Zealand can now be ensured. That is an essential condition for ensuring the continued export of goods to the Oceanic countries and an important economic factor for Germany. We will support you throughout this process.

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