Invasive insects

Preface.  Below is a by no means exhaustive list of insect scourges, just the ones I happen to run across in the magazines I subscribe to or online.  To some extent these invasions are being suppressed by massive amounts of toxic chemicals that have their own dire consequences, but in the end, pesticides won’t be around after we head downhill on the rollercoaster of depleting energy and natural resources.  As it is, they only last for 5 years, and like antibiotics, we are running out of toxic chemicals to even attempt to use.  Whoever is still around after collapse will sure be hard pressed to survive — unless they add insects to their diets…

Related:

Chemical industrial farming is unsustainable. Why poison ourselves when pesticides don’t save more of our crops than in the past?

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report

May 2017. New crop pest takes Africa at lightning speed. Science 356:473-474.

In Rwanda, the drab caterpillars were first spotted last February. By April, they were turning up across the country, attacking a quarter of all maize fields. As farmers panicked, soldiers delivered pesticides by helicopter and helped pick off caterpillars by hand.

Unknown in Africa until last year, the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is now marching across the continent with an astonishing speed. At least 21 countries have reported the pest in the past 16 months. The fall armyworm can devastate maize, a staple, and could well attack almost every major African crop.

Armyworms get their name because when the caterpillars have defoliated a field, they march by the millions to find more food. The adult moths can travel hundreds of kilometers per night on high-altitude winds. The endemic African armyworm (S. exempta) already causes major crop losses every few years. But the fall armyworm, a native of the Americas, causes more damage because females lay their eggs directly on maize plants rather than on wild grasses, and the caterpillars have stronger, sharper jaws.

In many other countries, damage reports are still preliminary. “We don’t yet know if this is going to cause a food security crisis,” Wilson says. In the Americas, the armyworm feeds on more than 80 plants, seriously damaging maize, sorghum, and pasture grass and has has evolved resistance both to several pesticides and to some kinds of transgenic maize.

the pest appears likely to spread beyond Africa. The moths will probably arrive in Yemen within a few months, Wilson says. Migration or trade also could bring the pest to Europe, he adds, making it important to inspect imported plant material and conduct field surveys with pheromone traps. If the species reaches Asia, says entomologist Ramasamy Srinivasan of the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan, “its introduction might have a huge economic impact.”

March 1, 2016.  Buzzkill: Deadly hornets set to invade UK, chop up bees, experts warn. rt.com

A dangerous group of insect invaders accused of killing six people in France are now heading to the UK, wildlife experts have cautioned.  Asian hornets could devastate England’s dwindling bee population, as they are known to kill up to 50 honey bees per day, mainly by chopping them up and feeding them to their larvae. “It is feared that it is just a matter of time before it reaches our shores,” according to Camilla Keane of the Wildlife and Countryside group.  She said in a statement that hornets will be incredibly difficult and costly to tackle once they arrive, causing “significant environmental and economic damage”.  The aggressive predator first arrived in France 12 years ago via pottery and quickly spread to Portugal, Italy, and Belgium.  It is expected to soon reach northern France where it could easily spread across a channel. From April onwards, the hornets produce eggs and don’t stop until the hive population peaks at around 6,000 insects. Bees are estimated to contribute £651m ($908m) a year to the UK economy as honey-producing slaves.

María Virginia Parachú Marcó. 2015. Red Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) Effects on Broad-Snouted Caiman Nest Success. Journal of Herpetology 49(1):70-74.

Argentinian fire ants are held in check by native predators.  But in the USA where no natural predators exist, they could kill 70% of turtle hatchlings in Florida, and they’ve been caught eating snakes, lizards, birds, and even deer fawns who freeze when in danger, giving the ants the chance to attack.

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