14August

Ants and Other ‘Stowaway’ Insects Are Invading New Continents

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We’ve seen some interesting articles on how insect species are spreading to regions of the world that they don’t normally inhabit.  Once present, the insects establish themselves, and can displace other species of insects, affect the environment, harm human health, and cause unexpected troubles for residents.  USA Today wrote about how crazy ants are displacing fire ants and affecting ecosystems in some southern states and cause an incredible $150 million/year of damage in Texas.

Invasive species are not just a US phenomenon. Insect invasions are occuring on a number of continents. The BBC explained:

Extrapolating from this data, they estimate that 768 exotic ant species could have been introduced around the world through trade routes. Of these, they believe that more than 600 species could have established new colonies. Dr Miravete said: “The number of ants arriving is very large and 85% of the introduced species are able to establish successfully. This indicates that there are many introduced species that are living around us as of yet detected.”  While not all animals that move to a new region pose a threat, some can wreak havoc – and invasive ants are some of the worst alien offenders. In Europe, aggressive Argentine ants have been building mega-colonies, and they are out-competing local ant populations, which has sent ripples through the ecosystem. And in the US, the invasion of South America’s Rasberry crazy ants has caused a host of problems as the insects swarm inside electrical equipment. 

Click here for a more detailed analysis in the journal, Royal Society Academic Letters.

It’s unclear how bed bugs were reintroduced to the United States several decades after being eradicated from the U.S.A. in the 1960s, but once an insect population establishes itself in a new place- they’re at minimum tough to dislodge!

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