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This month’s cover story "Unwelcome Tourists," explores the rise of invasive species and what PMPs can do to help slow the spread of these exotic pests. Learn more about new invasive species and well established foreign invaders.

October 23, 2012
Anne Nagro

This month’s cover story "Unwelcome Tourists," explores the rise of invasive species and what PMPs can do to help slow the spread of these exotic pests. Below is a review of both new invasive species and well established foreign invaders, including:

Caribbean Crazy Ant/Brown Hairy Crazy Ant/Rasberry Ant (Nylanderia pubens)
Found in Florida, Texas and the Gulf Coast, this invasive has potential to spread more, said Buczkowski. Huge colonies with millions of workers make it a big problem in urban areas. “The numbers are outrageous,” said Prentice. “All you can hope for is suppression to keep them out of the home.” University of Georgia Entomologist Dr. Dan Suiter expects them to appear in Georgia. Little is known of this ant’s biology, reported Texas A&M University, which is investigating food source attraction, colony growth and immature development.

Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius)
All but eradicated in the 1950s and back on the scene in the late 1990s, bed bugs are “definitely invasive,” said Dr. Dan Strickman, national program leader for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. DNA analysis by Dr. Warren Booth of North Carolina State University confirms the pests are not from a local source but most likely came from outside the U.S. Their reappearance coincides with increased traffic with the Middle East — where they’re very common — following 9/11, Strickman said.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys)
Found in 36 states, this bug was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2001. It likely arrived on packing materials from China in the late 1990s. “They’re excellent hitchhikers,” said USDA-ARS Research Entomologist Dr. Tracy Leskey. The agricultural pest becomes a nuisance when it seeks structural cracks and crevices in which to overwinter. Last year, National Wildlife Foundation Senior Scientist Doug Inkley removed 26,056 adult stink bugs from his house. Leskey is unsure what populations will number this year or if the bugs will establish in states with arid climates. “I don’t have any doubt they’re in Texas,” said Green Gator Pest Control Owner Wayne Grush. “They just haven’t been identified yet.”

Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria)
Discovered in Atlanta in October 2009, this bug likely arrived from Japan by airplane, because it’s since been found in outbound airplanes in Wisconsin, Minnesota and California, as well as in cargo shipped to Honduras, said Suiter. The pests are a nuisance when they look for places on structures to overwinter. Exclusion is “really all you can do,” said Killingsworth Environmental President Mike Rogers in Charlotte, N.C. “There’s no residual that’s going to have any long lasting effect.” They were not introduced to eat kudzu — “the vine that ate the south” — though they have reduced this invasive plant’s growth significantly. They also feed on soybeans, and have reduced crop yield 20 percent in southern states. “Time will tell” if it can survive without its host plant, but Midwest soybean farmers are worried, said Suiter.

Asian Bush Mosquito (Aedes japonicus)
Generally found in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, South China, and Hong Kong, this pest was identified in New York and New Jersey in the late 1990s and has since spread across the eastern United States. It was introduced to Minnesota in 2007. The container-breeding pest comes from farther north in Asia than the Asian tiger mosquito so it tends to fare better in northern North America, said Johnson. In Asia it’s a vector of Japanese encephalitis and it’s a laboratory competent vector of West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis and La Crosse encephalitis. “We’re waiting to see what kind of role they’ll play in disease transmission,” he said.

European Fire Ant (Myrmica rubra)
First described in Boston in1908, these small, aggressive ants have increased their range in the last 15 years, said Dr. Ellie Groden of University of Maine in Orono. Humans have moved them inland from coastal Northeast states and from Newfoundland to British Columbia. This ant eliminates native species, and prefers wet, moist soils and shaded areas, said Groden. They’re a “real inconvenience,” said Modern Pest Services Technical Director Mike Peaslee in Brunswick, Maine. Large colonies of the stinging pest are found near structures and in the periphery of yards. Granular bait with Indoxacarb has been fairly successful in achieving control, he said. It’s unlikely it will establish populations further south.

Asian Subterranean Termite (Coptotermes gestroi)
Although the same genus as the Formosan termite, this termite is “truly tropical” and won’t extend beyond southeast Florida, said Scheffrahn. It’s also found in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It has another common name, Philippine milk termite, and hails from Southeast Asia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It’s “one of the invasive species that has been spread around the world,” said Forschler. He doesn’t expect it to become a widespread problem, or require different treatment protocol.

Brown Widow Spider (Latrodectus geometricus)
In the past eight years, this spider — introduced to Florida from Africa by way of the Caribbean in the 1930s — has spread throughout the Southeast to California, said Mark Hoddle, director of the Center for Invasive Species Research at University of California Riverside. It does well in backyard habitats created by homeowners. In southern California it’s displaced the native black widow. Ravi Sachdeva, entomologist and CEO of American Pest Management in Manhattan, Kan., started seeing them last year. They likely hitched rides on vehicles driven from the south. “It is a species that can survive up here.”

Whiteflies (various)
Whiteflies like rugose spiraling whitefly (Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin) and Bondar’s nesting whitefly (Paraleyrodes bondari) are devastating Florida landscape and ornamental plants and leaving sooty, sticky residues. They’ve become a profitable, full-time job for Apex Pest Control, said President Pete Eldridge in Rockledge, Fla. Employees treat for whitefly “all day every day” for the City of Miami. The pest quickly can make a ficus hedge see through. “In Miami that loss of privacy is akin to burglary.” The pests are from China/Burma/India and Brazil. — A.N.