Invasive Insects: The Costliest Animal Group to Human Society
The global economic costs of invasive insects are estimated to be US $70 billion to goods and services, and more than US$6.9 billion a year in health costs a year, according to a group of ecologists from Australia and France.
These estimates are likely to increase under climate change and growing international trade as well.
Aside from that, the researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia and CNRS and Paris-Sud University in France said most of damage is in healthcare and agriculture.
The research was led by Franck Courchamp, the CNRS research director at Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution (Université Paris-Sud/CNRS/AgroParisTech) and including entomologists from IRD Montpellier and a CNRS economist
This study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Role of Climate Change and Trade
The researchers say that costs are likely to increase. This is due to climate change and trade.
Dr Franck Courchamp said, “There are two main phenomena leading to an increased frequency of introductions and potentially expanding distributions of the costliest insect invaders: international trade and global warming.”
However, this problem of can be resolved by community participation and vigilant planning as highlighted by Dr. Courchamp.
“In addition to improving guidelines for estimating the full costs of invasive insects, vigilant planning, public-awareness campaigns and community participation could potentially relieve society of billions of dollars of annual expense, and reduce a great deal of human suffering.” – Dr. Courchamp
Meet the Costly Insects
The research also disclosed two costly insects. These are the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) which is transported worldwide from eastern Asia and capable of consuming as much as 400 g of wood a day. These termites live in huge colonies.This pest has taken over large sections of the U.S. and is very difficult to eradicate.
Following close behind the Formosan termite is the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) that originated in the Mediterranean region. It is a voracious eater of cruciferous crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, and especially cabbage. In the U.S. alone, damage from this insect pest costs about $4.6 billion per year.