Detector Dog at Brisbane Airport Sniffs Out Exotic Invasive Pest

Detector Dog at Brisbane Airport Sniffs Out Exotic Invasive Pest

A biosecurity detector dog at the Brisbane International Airport helped to prevent a live brown marmorated stink bug from entering the country. The detector dog sniffed out the bug, known to be an agricultural, horticultural, and social pest, in a passenger’s duffle bag.

The heavy influx of passengers during the December season was no match for a detector dog named “Petal,” who successfully sniffed out a live brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), its department’s second detection since the department started training dogs to detect BMSB in 2018.

Deputy Secretary of biosecurity Chris Locke said Petal and her handler were doing a routine screening of arriving passengers when the dog responded to a passenger’s duffle bag where a bug was discovered. No further b bugs were found after the officers conducted a thorough inspection of the item.

He said that the bug was then secured and sent over to entomologists to confirm that it was indeed a BMSB. The passenger, who was an Australian citizen, said that they had no idea that they were harbouring a high-risk pest. No fine was issued.

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Detector Dog at Brisbane Airport Sniffs Out Exotic Invasive Pest
Photo Credit: Lildobe, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

BSMB is exotic to Australia and poses no risk to human health, but it is a nuisance pest that can wreak havoc once it enters and establishes itself in our homes and buildings. It is also known to consume and damage more than 300 fruit types, ornamental plants and vegetable crops including apples, grapes, sweet corn and tomatoes.

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An adult BMSB is about 12 mm to 17 mm long. It is brown in colour with a shield-shaped body and pale white bands on its antennae as well as distinctive black and white banding along its body. Once they are disturbed, brown marmorated stink bugs release a pungent odour.

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Meanwhile, their eggs are light green and shaped like barrels. They usually lay eggs in clusters of 25 to 30 on the underside of leaves.

The first time a detector dog was able to expose a live BMSB was when “Velvet” successfully detected the bug in 2021. There are currently 37 dogs trained to detect brown marmorated stink bugs under the department’s detector dog program.

Published 3-January-2023