Invasive insects cost billions in damages, and millions more to fight, each year. These non-native species threaten the U.S. food supply or our national forests and can pose a health or property threat to people living in the United States. Invasive pests spread quickly because they do not have natural predators in their new environments. Some of these species have the potential to spread throughout the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is on a mission to educate people about these species and ask for help in preventing their spread.
How bad is the situation? Invasive species result in $13 billion in crop losses each year. Citrus fruits and vegetables are especially at risk, but other crops are also impacted. Forest damage costs an additional $2.1 billion annually. In addition, it costs millions to fight these species. For instance, the U.S. Forest Service spends $11 million each year to try to control just one species of moth, yet that species has decimated 75 million acres since the 1970s.
The USDA is working to educate people about the problem, and how they can help prevent the spread of invasive species. Identifying these invasive pests quickly and preventing conditions in which they may thrive and spread can greatly reduce their impact. Of particular importance is making people aware that infected fruit, wood, or other natural resources can allow invasive species t spread long distances.
According to Scott Pfister, director of the pest management division of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, invasive species spread most through human assistance. “An insect may naturally fly so many miles a year. With human assistance, it can go across the country in a day,” Pfister.
- Asian Citrus Psyllid – This tiny insect is found in California and Florida and carries Citrus Greening Disease which turns fruit bitter.
- Asian Longhorned Beetle – A beetle found in Massachusetts, New York and Ohio that attacks and kills hardwood trees.
- Emerald Ash Borer – This insect is found in 18 Midwest and Northeast states and kills ash trees.
- European Grapevine Moth – A moth found in California which eats grapes flowers and grapes in its caterpillar stage, resulting in rot.
- European Gypsy Moth – A moth found in California which strips the leaves of 300species of trees and shrubs.
- False Codling Moth – This moth destroys fruit trees, plants and field crops. It was present in Ventura California, but has been eradicated.
- Giant African Snail – This snail is found in Florida and grows up to 8 inches in length and eats over 500 plants, as well as paint, plaster and stucco. It carries a parasite that can infect humans with meningitis.
- Imported Fire Ants – These ants are found in 14 states and Puerta Rico. They sting repeatedly, cause blisters and can even kill small animals. They feed on U.S. crops.
- Khapra Beetle – This beetle is currently not found in the United States, but eats both grain crops and packaged foods.
- Light Brown Apple Moth – A moth found in California and Hawaii which infects 250 crops and gargen plants.
- Mediterranean Fruit Fly – A fruit fly found in Hawaii which, during its caterpillar stage, will feed on nuts and vegetables.
- Mexican Fruit Fly – This fruit fly damages 50 plants including citrus and mango. It was present in California and Texas but has been eradicated.
- Oriental Fruit Fly – This fruit fly is found in Hawaii and kills more than 230 fruits and vegetables.
- Sudden Oak Death – This insect is found in California and Oregon, and kills over75 plants, but is particularly deadly to oak and California Bay Laurel trees.
Tags: Asian Citrus Psyllid, Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, European Grapevine Moth, European Gypsy Moth, False Codling Moth, Giant African Snail, Imported Fire Ants, Invasive Species, Khapra Beetle, Light Brown Apple Moth, Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Mexican Fruit Fly, Oriental Fruit Fly, Pest Control, Sudden Oak Death, USDA