Pests arriving from overseas can be a serious threat to our way of life here in Australia. Pests and diseases can wipe out entire food and fibre crops, affect our health, our pets and livestock, and damage our unique environment. Some pests can even change the simple things in life that we take for granted.
It is critical that pests are detected where they are likely to first appear – at our ports. This means we are on Australia’s frontline against pest and disease incursions.
What we look for:
• Live or dead animals, including insects
• Egg masses on any surface (which can resemble pale furry lumps)
• Holes in timber which is the powdery substance expelled from the timber when there is borer activity
• Mosquito activity around pooled water
• Plant matter, soil or mud – often combined and attached to a surface (e.g. on machinery)
Where we look:
• Inside and on the outside surface of shipping containers
• Attached to machinery and vehicles (break bulk cargo)
• In timber (e.g. pallets)
• In packaging including plastic wrapping and cardboard boxes
• Food stuffs
• On vessels
Pestar Services will give you advice on the best way to contain the problem, and prevent other cargo's from being contaminated.
Some of the steps you might be asked to take include:
• Closing container or vessel doors or creating barriers
• Isolating the affected cargo in an area away from other goods
• Using tarpaulins or blankets to cover the area or restrict animal movement
• Taking photos, recording the location and collecting a specimen if safe to do so. This will help us to identify the pest and determine the best treatment
• Using knockdown spray as a last resort to prevent insects escaping, but we wont use a knockdown spray if we think it will cause the insects to disperse.
The Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are the most common pests found on cargo's and ships!
Hitchhiker pests can arrive in Australia on Cargo and Containers and may be more common at particular times of the year. The brown marmorated stink bug, is one such pest which originates from Asia and has spread to North America and Europe in recent decades.
Adult Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, are 12 to 17 millimetres long and mottled with a faint reddish tinge. While there are species of stink bugs in Australia that may look similar, adult brown marmorated stink bugs have distinctive black and white banding around the edge of the abdomen with white bands on the last two antennal segments.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs can be found in large numbers seeking shelter from cold weather in crevices or protected areas of shipping containers, vehicles, boats, caravans, machinery and personal stored items.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, are more frequently found on goods arriving in Australia between September and April, coinciding with late autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere.
The Asian gypsy moth is a major threat to Australia’s horticulture and forestry industries, native forests and urban plants. Adult moths are pale with black marks and have a wingspan of between 3 cm and 7 cm. Larvae are covered by tufts of long hair, and can be dispersed on the wind. Egg masses are laid on surfaces near lights when vessels dock at temperate Asian ports (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Russia) between May and October. These masses contain up to 1,200 eggs that are covered in yellow scales, and can remain viable for months.
Burnt pine longicorn beetles lay their eggs into pine and spruce trees where their larvae bore into the timber. This species is found in Europe, North Africa and New Zealand, and can fly aboard or can be brought in with cargo. Burnt pine longicorn beetles shelter in crevices during daylight hours. They are active and attracted to lights on summer nights, generally between November and March. Adults can be between 1 cm and 3 cm in length, are dark brown and have long antennae.
Khapra beetles feed on dried plant and animal products with a preference for grain and stored products. This is a risk to Australia’s grain industries and could jeopardise our export grain markets. Larvae can survive being dormant for two or more years in varied conditions. Adult beetles are reddish-brown, oval in shape and are about 2 to 3 mm long. Larvae are typically very hairy (with distinctive tufts over the body and a short tail), are pale yellow to golden-brown, and range in size up to 5 mm long. They go through several moulting stages, leaving behind numerous cast skins which can indicate their presence.
Exotic honey bees may be aggressive, and the parasites, such as varroa mite, and diseases they carry pose a significant threat to Australia’s honey and agricultural industries. Bees are usually between 1 cm and 2 cm in length, and are hairy and often patterned with black and yellow/orange markings. Wax combs or insects flying to and from a nest can indicate the presence of bees. Nests may be found underneath a structure or in hollow spaces. If a colony or swarm of bees is discovered on board, do not disturb them. Bees require specialist treatment.
Mosquito larvae (wrigglers) are the life stage most likely to be found onboard vessels. They live in pools of fresh or brackish water and they are very active (wriggle) when approached or disturbed. Adults, which are slow fliers, often hide in dark, protected areas and lay their eggs (which look like black specks of pepper) where water pools. Eggs can remain viable for up to a year.
The multicoloured Asian lady beetle is another invasive insect which is rapidly spreading across overseas countries. When seeking shelter from the cold, they can congregate on shipping containers and various other cargo items which may be loaded onto vessels. These beetles are fairly circular and dome-shaped, and between 5 mm and 8 mm long. The colour may be yellow, orange, red or black, and they can have many, some or no spots.
Exotic ants may be aggressive and invasive. If they establish in Australia they could cause social, ecological and economic damage. Being social insects they are often found in groups or associated with a nest. Ants can range in size from 1 mm to 30 mm in length. Each colony may contain ants with a variety of sizes, colours and forms, including winged individuals. Fertilised queen ants which may have wings pose a high bios
Exotic snails and slugs can cause severe damage to Australian agricultural systems and natural areas, and can spread diseases which affect humans, animals and plants. They are able to spread as eggs, juveniles or adults, and these can be attached to vessel structures, cargo, shipping containers, machinery or motor vehicles. The giant African snail (often referred to by biosecurity officers as GAS) can have a shell length of up to 20 cm, and eggs which are about 5 mm wide.
Plant pests can be found on any part of a plant, including roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds. Some insects and mites on plants can be microscopic or hidden beneath a wax covering. Their presence may be indicated by leaves with webbing, marks or unusual growth. Borers can live inside timber, stems or seeds, often leaving signs such as holes or frass (like sawdust).