An Unlikely Origin For An American Insect Pest

An Unlikely Origin For An American Insect Pest

Insect pests are not at all uncommon in America, and many of them are not native. There are a variety of different ways in which insects arrive in America from other countries. Invasive insects often arrive in America by hitching rides on shipping vessels. Some invasive insects have even managed to populate America by becoming attached to single individuals flying by plane from overseas territories. We often hear of exotic insect pests coming to the US from Japan, China, Africa and even Europe. It seems that many of America’s insect pests came from tropical and warmer regions of the world where the climate favors most forms of insect life. But what about regions of the world that are less mild? For example, has anyone ever heard of an invasive insect from a Scandinavian country? Or how about Russia? Russia is the largest country in the world, so it seems likely that America would have at least a few insect pests that are natural Russians. Then again, since Russia and America are not typically trading partners, native Russian insects could not have arrived in America via shipping vessel. However, there are, indeed, insect pests in America that call Russia home. The most well known Russian insect pest in America is, arguably, the wheat aphid.

The wheat aphid did not arrive in America directly; instead this insect was likely transported from Russia to Mexico. Once in Mexico, it did not take long for this problematic insect to make its way into the United States. The wheat aphid was quickly discovered in Lubbock, Texas in 1986. A short time afterward this insect became an infamous pest in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas.

The wheat aphid has since devastated wheat and barley crops located throughout the United States. The economic losses incurred by the wheat aphids peaked in 1988 at 274 million dollars. Fortunately, since then, the crop damage caused by this insect has decreased substantially. However, this insect is still active in many US states, and will never disappear entirely.

Do you know of any other invasive insects in America that originated from colder regions of the world?

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