These are the huge stink bugs terrorising Sydney’s inner-city suburbs

By AG Staff 17 January 2018
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Despite the stink bugs penchant for snacking on garden fruit trees, residents say the terrible smell is the biggest issue for them.

HORDES OF MYSTERIOUS stink bugs have settled themselves on several China Doll trees in Bellevue Street in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills, much to the dismay of residents.

The head of Search and Discover at the Australian Museum, David Bock has since identified the insect to be a Lychee stink bug (Tessaratoma papillosa).

According to David, these kinds of insect outbreaks can be quite seasonal, depending entirely on the right heat, rain and humidity to occur at the same time.

He described the scene as “unusual” but “extraordinary” and confirmed that despite that the bugs are all different colours, they’re the same species at different stages of development.

It’s possible, David says, that this most recent outbreak might have something to do with a food source issue.

“Lychee stink bugs feed on a range of citrus plants so they have a quite a wide diet.

“I heard just today that someone had planted a young lime tree in inner-Sydney and these things swarmed all over it and they decided to just get rid of the entire lime tree.

“If this outbreak happened in an agricultural setting they’d be far more financial issues to consider.”

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The bad smell

One resident of Bellevue Street, Ryan Kenny, told the Daily Mail that the smell was the biggest issue for him.

“It’s disgusting. It smells like a public urinal basically. It’s just gross.

“It dries as if it’s like a sugary syrup and everything sticks to it – all of the dust and dirt. Like a mist of that all over the car. Just to touch it is pretty gross.

“When they get real bad they’re all over the front of the house. They squirt all over your shoes and you’re walking that into the house as well.”

David told Australian Geographic that their foul-smelling spray is an alkaline chemical combination, with less than subtle hints of whatever citrus plants they would be eating.

He says that the spray is deposited through a set of tiny holes on their sides where it sprays out of their body, often as defence mechanism.

“Once the chemical is on your skin it may take days of washing and scrubbing before it is gone, and you do not want to be sprayed in the eyes,” he said.