The Worst Invasive Insect Species

By Joyce Chepkemoi on May 9 2018 in Environment

Big-headed ants are an invasive species that have been blamed for eliminating other ant populations.
Big-headed ants are an invasive species that have been blamed for eliminating other ant populations.

Invasive insect species are insects that dwell in habitats which are not their native homes and were introduced into that location. These invasive species pose threats to their introduced locality causing damage to the environment, the economy, and to human health. There are thousands of invasive insects in different parts of the world spreading rapidly and causing huge ecological and economic impacts in various countries. Agricultural bodies and organizations concerned with the conservation of the natural environment have come up with various control measures to eradicate these pests and prevent further spread to unaffected areas.

14. Aedes albopictus

Also known as the forest mosquito or Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus is an insect species native to South Asia which has spread to other areas of the world through transportation and travel. The insect may spread some pathogens including viruses of yellow fever, dengue fever, and Chikungunya fever as well as hosting the Zika virus. The insect has white and black stripes and has a length of 2-10mm.The insect competes with other species with similar breeding areas and may cause their eradication.

13. Anopheles quadrimaculatus

The common malaria mosquito is an invasive species in North America. While it is believed to be a non-vector for malaria, it poses a threat of reintroduction of the disease in areas where it has already been eliminated. Despite the fact that malaria-causing mosquitoes prefer tropical climates, they are capable of surviving in cooler areas.

12. Anoplolepis gracilipes

The yellow crazy ant is an invasive species in Australia, Seychelles, Hawaii, and Christmas Island where it has caused extensive ecological damage. The damage has occurred regarding eradication of both plants and animals from their natural habitat. The ant is a highly invasive species due to its high adaptability and aggressive behavior, which makes it dominant in a habitat.

11. Anoplophora glabripennis

The Asian long-horned beetle was accidentally introduced into the US in wood packaging materials and has spread to Canada and parts of Europe. The beetle infests maple, poplar, willow, and elm trees causing damage to these trees. The beetle is native to southeastern Asia. Measures of eradication have succeeded in several areas including Manhattan, Staten Island, Chicago, and Boston.

10. Bemisia tabaci

The silver leaf whitefly is an insect native to India which does well in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. The silver leaf whitefly's ability to adapt to various plants makes it one of the most damaging agricultural pest affecting plants such as tomatoes, okra, beans, squash, cucumber, poinsettia, eggplant, and cotton. Apart from feeding on the plant, the whitefly carries plant pathogens including cassava brown streak virus, tomato yellow curl leaf virus, and cassava mosaic virus.

9. Cinara cupressi

The cypress aphid is an invasive species in Europe and Africa. The aphid affects conifers by sucking the sap of the trees causing them to dry up. It mainly infests cypress trees but has also affected Thuja, Junipers, and Widdringonia. The aphid can be controlled using chemicals. The aphid reproduces and increases during the warmer seasons. In Africa, the aphid has no natural enemies thus its population increases rapidly.

8. Coptotermes formosanus

The Formosan subterranean termite is native to Japan, Formosa, and Southern China. The termite has been introduced worldwide through transportation in wood. The termite is a notoriously invasive species that exist in large colonies and causes extensive and rapid damage to wood. The termite poses a huge threat in an area as they are extremely hard to eradicate once they settle and colonize an area. The insects feed on any material containing wood fiber.

7. Linepithema humile

The Argentine ant is an invasive insect native to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil. Outside of its native range, the Argentine ant displaces other native ants, which may disrupt the ecosystem by limiting seed dispersal. By eliminating other ants from their native ranges, the Argentine ant directly affects the food chain for animals that feed on these ants.The ant also poses serious agricultural threats, as it tends to form symbiotic relationships with some pests.

6. Lymantria dispar

The gypsy moth consists of several subspecies that found all over the world. The gypsy moth is a notorious defoliator destroying trees in various forests where it is found. The moth infests more than 500 species of trees and shrubs making it extremely hard to control. The moth has no natural predators. Repeated defoliation of trees makes them dry, thus creating an imbalance in the ecosystem.

5. Pheidole megacephala

The big-headed ant is native in most parts of Africa where it spread to other places in the world from the 19th century through transportation.The species has invaded Australia and North America mainly Florida. The ant has a disproportional body with the head being noticeably larger than the body. In areas it has invaded, the bigheaded ant eliminates other native ants from the location.

4. Solenopsis invicta

The red fire ant is endemic to South America. The ant was accidentally introduced to North America, Australia, New Zealand, some parts of Asia, and the Caribbean. They are capable of dwelling in a wide range of habitats including deserts, forests, electrical instruments and disturbed areas. Red fire ant poses a risk to human beings as the bite from the ant can trigger anaphylaxis in some people. The disease is fatal if not treated.

3. Trogoderma granarium

The cabinet beetle originated in South Asia and has become a destructive invasive pest for dry foods and seeds. The beetle is highly adaptable to dry conditions and can go for a long period without food. The beetle is also resistant to many insecticides. The beetle causes extensive damage when introduced into a new area and may lead to skin and gastrointestinal irritation when consumed. To prevent further invasions trade goods from infested countries are thoroughly screened.

2. Vespula vulgaris

The common wasp is native to the Palearctic region but is adaptable to a variety of habitats. The ant is invasive in New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand, the wasp competes with other insects for nectar. The wasp poses aggressive competition to these insects.

1. Wasmannia auropunctata

The electric ant is small golden brown ant native to central and South America. The ant has currently spread to other countries including, Cameroon, Gabon, Puerto Rico, Cuba, North America, Australia, and some Pacific Islands. In areas where it has invaded, the electric ant has caused reduced species diversity, elimination of some species such as arachnids.

More in Environment