Think the cost of keeping invasive insects out of the US is expensive? Then consider the costs of not keeping them out. The brown marmorated stink bug burst into the public eye in 2010 with widespread crop damage and home invasion on the East Coast of the US. A native of East Asia, it was first detected in Allentown, PA by college students. This pest is responsible for millions of dollars in crop damages and control costs. The bug drills holes in many varieties of fruits with its mouthparts, opening the fruit to destruction by pathogens. In addition to the crop losses, the bug invades homes as winter approaches, seeking overwintering sites. Homeowners have spent a lot of time, effort and money in attempts to eliminate the nuisance.
The overwintering habit is creating new costs for manufacturers exporting cars from the US. New Zealand and Australia have substantial fruit crops that could be damaged if the brown marmorated stink bug reaches these countries. The bug has been detected hitchhiking inside of autos and auto parts. As a result, New Zealand and Australia now require that all new and used cars, trucks, machinery, boats and parts shipped from the US be treated to eliminate brown marmorated stink bugs that might be hitchhiking. Inspection alone is not an option as there are many cracks and crevices that could harbor undetected stink bugs. The requirement is to treat all affected cargo as if the stink bugs are present by either heat treatment or fumigation. This has left US exporters scrambling to find options. Treatments will increase costs and potentially add to pollution. One treatment option, methyl bromide, depletes ozone and adds to the ozone hole. Other fumigants may damage or discolor cars parts. If you thought the costs were already too high, they just went up.