Insect BioInvasion

Ant BioInvasion

Crazy Ants are replacing Fire ants.  This is not a good thing!  If you do some research on crazy ants, you will miss the fire ants.  Researchers reported that where crazy ants take hold, the numbers and types of arthropods — insects, spiders, centipedes and crustaceans — decrease, which is likely to have ripple effects on ecosystems by reducing food sources for birds, reptiles and other animals. They also nest in people’s homes and damage electrical equipment.

University of Texas at Austin. “Crazy ants dominate fire ants by neutralizing their venom.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2014.

Fire Ants.

Integrated Pest Management Manual. National Park Service.

Senate Rpt.105-073 – Agricultural research, extension, & Education reform act of 1997

Ironically, Buh’s The Fire Ant Wars Nature, Science, and Public Policy in Twentieth-Century America book shows how the mind boggling amount of toxic chemicals dumped on vast regions of the South may have done far more harm than the fire ant itself, which can actually be quite beneficial because it attacks many crop pests.

Beetle BioInvasion

Khapra beetleIf this beetle gets a foothold in the USA, it could quickly consume the entire contents of a grain elevator, drive up the cost of food, and if anyone tried to eat the remaining grain, make them sick from the beetle skin and feces.  Economically, this would also ruin our agricultural export industry.  The Khapra beetle eats just about everything — cereals, grains, and dry plant or animal matter.  They are hard to get rid of because they’re extremely resistant to insecticides and fumigants.  In 2009 it was on the worldwide list of the 100 most feared invasive pests and has been found 16 times at U.S. seaports and airports.  In 2010 it was found 34 times, and in 2011 106 times.  William Mullen.  28 Aug 2011. Inspectors do battle against alien invader. Customs agents search cargo for voracious beetle. Chicago Tribune.

Ash borer beetles – 8 billion trees at risk

Hamilton, Anita. 4 Jul 2011. The Bug That’s Eating America. Time Magazine.

Infestations of ash borer beetles have killed 60 million ash trees in 15 states since they first appeared in Detroit in 2002.  Deb McCullough, an entomologist, considers them to be the most destructive forest insect ever to invade North America.  There are 8 billion ash trees for this pest with no predators to chow down on in the future. Cities are expected to spend over $10 billion the next decade to fight this pest and remove infested trees.  Unfortunately, many cities replaced elms destroyed with only ashes, in the future towns plan to plant a wider variety of trees.

Mountain Pine Beetle invades ponderosa, lodgepole, Scotch and limber pine trees. They once played a useful role by killing old or weakened trees, but climate change has turned them into an  unprecedented epidemic.

And it’s not just “one thing” — according to this June 2012 article, Dying Trees in Southwest Set Stage for Erosion, Water Loss in Colorado River: a one-two punch of drought and mountain pine beetle attacks have killed more than 2.5 million acres of pinyon pine and juniper trees in the American Southwest the past 15 years, setting the stage for further ecological disruption.  The widespread dieback of these tree species is a special concern because they are some of the last trees that can hold together a fragile ecosystem, stabilize soil, store carbon in their biomass and the soil beneath their canopy, nourish other plant and animal species, and prevent serious soil erosion. The major form of soil erosion in this region is wind erosion. Dust blowing from eroded hills can cover snowpacks, cause them to absorb heat from the sun and melt more quickly, and further reduce critically-short water supplies in the Colorado River basin.

In British Columbia over 40 million acres have been affected, and over 3, 600,000 acres in Colorado and Wyoming.  It may be the largest forest insect blight ever seen in North America.

The small hive beetle is a beekeeping pest. It was first discovered in 1996 and is now in many states including, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Virginia and Hawaii.  The small hive beetle can be a destructive pest of honey bee colonies, causing damage to comb, stored honey and pollen and even cause bees to abandon their hive. The beetles can also invest stored combs and honey inside. Beetle larvae defecate and discolor the honey as they tunnel through it.

Beetles destroy coffee plants.  Now that’s a real tragedy! I can cope with the collapse of civilization as long as I have my morning  cup of coffee.  But the coffee berry borer beetle now threatens coffee plants.  It affects over 20 million farming families and causes half a billion dollars in damage every year.

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