Invasive Species for the Holidays

A couple of stories from the British tabloids illustrate one of the challenges of preventing transport of exotic species.

The first report is of praying mantids found in a shipment of Christmas wreaths from Turkey by a florist. The mantids were mating and the female was in the act of devouring its partner. The local zoo collected the invader and named it ET (after the movie character).

The second report is about a woman who found a giant Egyptian grasshopper in a bag of salad greens. The local zoo confirmed that it was imported from Egypt and that it was a gravid female.

Fortunately, these species cannot survive in more Northern areas. The demand for fresh produce and live plants and shipping them by air is a recipe for moving insects from one area to another. We are conducting an experiment on a global scale by transporting species to new locations that previously were excluded because of natural barriers. Too often the results of this “experiment” is unhappy.

Chinese Mantid
Introduced into Eastern US in the early 1930s

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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1 Response to Invasive Species for the Holidays

  1. BioBob says:

    And please don’t mention all the species introduced on purpose, lol.

    I am afraid that the aggregate of accidental and intentional species introductions are so pervasive and common that we will end up with are large number of global generalist species eventually forming a new wave of derivative species. A great combo – humans to destroy, homogenize and simplify habitats with their coterie of associated “familiars”.

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