Exotic Venom-spurting Stinkbugs Invade Taiwan

Taiwan Environmental Information Center has reported that Keelung City has experienced an explosion of giant stink bugs this year. The bugs can spurt a skin-burning venom when disturbed.

The exotic species, Tessaratoma papillosa, is believed to have traveled by ship from Kinmen in 2009. The bugs are commonly found in China. Since they arrived, they have been recorded all over the island except for Hualien and Taitung counties.

The giant stink bugs are a pest in trees of the Sapindaceae family, which includes food crops such as Litchi, longan, and rambutan, and popular ornamentals, such as the goldenrain tree, which are commonly found in parks and school campuses.

Keelung City Council is at a loss about what to do about the issue, and say all they can do is warn people to keep away from the venom-spitting bugs.

The bugs lay eggs during the spring breeding season from March to June, and the mother guards the eggs aggressively. They not only lay eggs on leaves, but also on insect screens, and clothes hanging outside, which results in greater potential for human contact.

Keelung Wild Bird Society president Shen Jinfeng said many people have been burned by the bugs, which have proliferated both in the mountains, and on the plains.

The only natural enemy of the giant stink bugs are wasps of the species Anastatus japonicus, and experiments are being carried out to try to reduce numbers of the invasive species by releasing wasps in infected areas.

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