The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), which is native to South East Asia, has been identified for the first time in the UK. Although it has spread to parts of the US and Europe in recent years, this is the first time that it has been recorded in Great Britain.
Three sightings in London, Essex and Suffolk have been confirmed by scientists at the Natural History Museum and mapped by NIAB EMR as part of a wider pest survey.
The Natural History Museum’s Senior Curator in Charge for Coleoptera Max Barclay said it would only be a matter of time before the stink bug made its presence known in the UK. “They’ll establish pretty quickly,” he warned. “We’ve seen this in a lot of invasive species before. You find one or two and then they are everywhere. The harlequin ladybird from China arrived in 2006, and now they are enormously abundant.”
Among the crops at risk from the pest are grapes, where the smell, which is used by the bug as a defence mechanism, can taint an entire vintage if the species becomes established in vineyards. Other crops at risk include soft fruit such as plums, and greenhouse vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes.