If You Need Another Reason To Hate Stink Bugs, They're Now Holding Up Australian Car Shipments

The highly invasive species hides in shipping containers, then decimates crops in warmer seasons.

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A vehicle transport ship brings Japanese cars to Australia in 2004.
A vehicle transport ship brings Japanese cars to Australia in 2004.
Photo: Torsten Blackwood/AFP (Getty Images)

The brown marmorated stink bug is a pest that truly unites the world. We have them here in the United States of course, but apparently they also pose a daily annoyance to our neighbors in Europe and Asia. Their global ubiquity is owed to their ability to lie dormant for months, before temperatures rise and they’re awakened — at which point they like to destroy crops. As you can imagine, shipping containers function as an excellent vehicle for their torment.

A brown marmorated stink bug
The humble brown marmorated stink bug
Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Maybe you see where this is going. Australia is very careful about keeping invasive species out, and so cargo containers used to ship cars to the country are being fumigated prior to arrival, according to Australia’s ABC News. That’s adding a delay of roughly four weeks, Drive.au’s Joshua Dowling told ABC. “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,” Dowling said to the news agency.


Compound that with the neverending chip shortage and, well, it’s yet another roadblock to automotive supply buyers and sellers must contend with in 2021. There’ll probably be a magnesium shortage soon, too! Everything just keeps getting better.

Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment identifies the period between September and April as the operative season for surveillance of stink bugs on vessels transporting high-risk goods, like cars. Brown marmorated stink bugs are believed to have first entered Australia via a car shipment in 2014.


Automotive sales in Australia have shown consistent growth over the past 11 months, but are still falling short of pre-pandemic levels. This past September marked a nearly 21 percent increase in terms of sales volume compared to September 2020 on the continent, Drive reported. On the flip side, it was 17 percent below the five-year average between 2014 and 2019, and the second-worst September on record since the global recession more than a decade ago.

Things have been somewhat rockier on this side of the Pacific. The overall number of cars sold was down 7 percent on our shores relative to August, while the average transaction price rose by about $1,700.