Invasive insects

Preface.  Below is a by no means exhaustive list of insect scourges, just the ones I happen to run across.  Whoever is still around after collapse will sure be hard pressed to survive — unless they add insects to their diets.


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

Alice Friedemann  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


Baker M. 2020. ‘Murder Hornets’ in the U.S.: The Rush to Stop the Asian Giant Hornet. New York Times.

Sightings of the Asian giant hornet have prompted fears that the vicious insect could establish itself in the United States and devastate bee populations. Asian giant hornets can use mandibles shaped like spiked shark fins to wipe out a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating the bees and flying away with the thoraxes to feed their young. For larger targets, the hornet’s potent venom and stinger — long enough to puncture a beekeeping suit — make for an excruciating combination that victims have likened to hot metal driving into their skin.

June 2019.  ‘This is going to be a bad one’: A new pest is causing quarantines in Va. and Pa. Washington Post.

The latest worrisome organism is a strange insect from East Asia named the spotted lanternfly. The insect is known to sup from about 70 species. The mass feeding can seriously weaken its host. It likes grapevines and fruit trees, and afflicted plants suffer a much-diminished harvest.  The pest is also attracted to oaks, black walnuts and maples — high-value species for the timber industry.

Lanternfly excrete enormous amounts of a sugary waste called honeydew, and in their great numbers, this becomes excessive. On one wall of vegetation, leaves were glossy wet, as if sprayed with a hose.  Within a few days, honeydew draws a black fungus called sooty mold. In the yard, this can discolor decks, patio furniture, play equipment, arbors, vehicles and the rest. When the mold settles on leaves, a plant’s powers of photosynthesis are compromised.

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.”

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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