An invasive stink bug from east Asia may have made its way into western Sydney inside cargo from Italy.
Residents in the Glendenning area were on Thursday warned to keep an eye out for brown marmorated stink bugs after the insects were detected at a warehouse.
The insects are occasionally found in overseas cargo and have the potential to “severely impact our agriculture industries”, according to the federal agriculture department.
The Italian container was fumigated, however NSW authorities also want western Sydney residents to help work out whether any bugs have escaped by inspecting their gardens.
“They are large bugs that can give off an unpleasant odour when disturbed,” Dr Satendra Kumar of the NSW Department of Primary Industries said in a statement on Thursday.
Adult stink bugs are about the size of a five cent piece and are mostly mottled brown in colour.
They feed on a large range of fruit, but are attracted to apples, peaches, raspberries, corn, green beans, capsicums and tomatoes in particular.
The pests are considered a high biosecurity risk because of their tendency to “hitchhike”, mobile nature and lack of effective lures.
“If it established in Australia, this pest would be extremely difficult and expensive to manage, partly due to its broad host range,” the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources says on its website.
According to a review of the 2016-17 stink-bug season, there were 30 bugs – either dead or alive – detected in Australia inside cargo from the US and 128 found in cargo from Europe.