Not a year can go by without hearing catastrophically bad news that relates to insects. Insects are responsible for a number of unpleasantries that range from itchy bites to damaged houses, and even death. Obviously, the Zika virus outbreaks serve as the most recent and most significant example of how dangerous insect pests can become. In addition to the threat of disease-carrying mosquitoes, ticks are also a major arthropod threat in the United States. Ticks are technically arachnids, and they spread a multitude of diseases. Unfortunately, the most common tick-borne disease is also the most debilitating. Lyme disease rates have been increasing steadily over the past several years. Bugs like ticks and mosquitoes seem to be the most damaging, and in the short term, they are. However, there are also several insect pests that damage native and non-native plant-life. This sort of destruction may not seem important, but over time invasive species may become more common due to increased global travel and trade. This increase in global travel and trade will bring exotic insect pests to new regions of the world where they are not native. These non-native pests can become major problems for local ecosystems. At some point, the threat that invasive insects pose to the natural environment can become serious enough to warrant drastic action. Recently, invasive insects were discovered on California’s coast. These particular insects can easily destroy citrus trees by spreading a disease that known as “citrus greening disease”.
A few days ago in San Luis Obispo County, mostly in the Nipomo area, hundreds of tiny insects were found. These insects are known as Asian citrus psyllids and the disease that they spread can kill trees within a three to five year timespan. In response to this troubling find, the California Department of Food and Agriculture wasted no time planting two thousand traps around the county in order to determine the location and the extent of the invasive insect population. Luckily, experts have found no signs of citrus greening disease, but the season is not over and more than one hundred and forty reports of Asian citrus psyllid sightings have been called in to the department by california residents.
Do you believe that there exists any invasive insect in the United States that could be considered more damaging to the ecosystem than Asian citrus psyllids?