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Brown marmorated stink bug on a tomato

Stink Bugs Could Be to Blame for Delaying Your Car Delivery

The brown marmorated stink bug is a notorious pest, for the highly invasive species decimates crops around the world. Now, stink bugs, which emit a foul smell when disturbed or crushed, create an unexpected problem. They could be to blame for delaying your car delivery.

The brown marmorated stink bug, which emits a foul smell when disturbed or crushed, is an insect that’s loathed around the world. While it’s native to countries in Asia, the highly invasive species made its way to other regions, including North America, South America, and Europe. It’s especially problematic for agriculture, as it feeds on over 100 species of plants and decimates crop production. Now, stink bugs create an unexpected problem. They could be to blame for delaying your car delivery.

Stink bugs hide in cargo containers for shipping cars

Brown marmorated stink bug on a tomato
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug | Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics via Getty Images

Shipping containers are the key to the global supply chain, but they are also the vehicle of choice for invasive species like the brown marmorated stink bug. In Australia, authorities take strict measures to keep non-native species out of the country. Before reaching the ports, Australia fumigates the shipping containers, including ones that carry cars, as detailed by ABC News Australia

Fumigation of stink bugs delay the shipment and delivery of cars

Container ship in the ocean to demonstate the problem of stink bugs delaying car deliveries
Container Ship | Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The fumigation measures cause a delay of around four weeks. In Australia, the stink bug season runs from September to April. This is the warmer time of the year, and stink bugs awaken from their dormancy when the temperature is higher. In an interview with ABC News Australia,’s Joshua Dowling stated that “In any given season, we will see between two and half a dozen ships carrying cars held off-shore while the stink bugs are treated.”

The result is that people will have to wait even longer to get their car delivered to them. Car production and deliveries have already been hampered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and semiconductor chip shortage crisis. The stink bug problem only makes matters worse. While the car delivery delays from the stink bug fumigation measures primarily affect Australia, it has a ripple effect on the rest of the world. The global supply chain connects the entire planet, so any kind of bottleneck with shipping negatively affects other countries.

Why are stink bugs such a harmful pest?

Brown marmorated stink bugs lie dormant in large numbers for many months. They are hard to detect in this dormant state, as the pest hides in buildings, equipment — and shipping containers. When the temperature rises, they awake and wreak havoc on crops. Another reason why stink bugs are such a harmful pest is their high level of invasiveness.

“They opportunistically use cargo containers and freight vehicles to hitchhike across continents and oceans. The bug’s ability to hitchhike, fly, and to feed on a wide range of plant hosts, enables it to spread rapidly when it is introduced to new areas.”

– Andrew Tongue, Head of Australia Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment

Australia, justifiably so, takes rigorous measures to keep stink bugs out of the country. In 2020, officials made 232 stink bug detections on goods and vessels. Stink bugs have a notorious reputation for their ability to decimate crops. In the Eastern U.S., they are especially problematic for fruit orchards. For example, in 2010, growers in the Mid-Atlantic region lost $37 million worth of apples due to stink bugs.


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