Please Allow Me to Introduce My Bug
October 23, 2007 12:56 PM   Subscribe

They keep doing this: 1869: European Gypsy Moth - thank you, Leopold Trouvelot! 1956: Africanized Bee - thank you, Prof.Warwick E. Kerr! 1957: Cactus Moth - thanks, unknown Caribbean cactus-hater! 1978: Asian Harlequin Ladybug (previously on MetaFilter) - thanks, USDA scientists!

From the abstract in the first link:
(a) Relatives of the pest are most likely to be attacked
(b) host-specificity testing defines physiological host range, but not ecological range
(c) prediction of ecological consequences requires population data
. . .
(e) information on magnitude of nontarget impact is sparse
(f) attack on rare native species can accelerate their decline
(g) nontarget effects can be indirect
. . .
(i) whole assemblages of species can be perturbed
. . .
The review leads to six recommendations: Avoid using generalists or adventive species; expand host-specificity testing; incorporate more ecological information; consider ecological risk in target selection; prioritize agents; and pursue genetic data on adaptation.
Or maybe it's better to leave species in the habitat that's used to them? There are lots more deliberately-introduced species causing problems; I only included insects in North America.
posted by Kirth Gerson (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
2000: George W. Bush - Thank you, Supreme Court!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:00 PM on October 23, 2007

Also, this idea has been indirectly responsible for some really, really bad sci-fi films.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:33 PM on October 23, 2007

Thanks for posting this. My husband works on invasive insects for the USDA, although his study organisms are mostly unintentional invaders.

One side effect of his job is that we have a problem with gypsy moths being attracted to the pheromone on his skin from the lab, which transfers to everything in our house and also transfers to me. Fortunately, we can get high-powered moth traps from the lab too, so we can drown out the weaker pheromone signal.
posted by nekton at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2007

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