Invasive species are those that enter a new ecosystem alien to their own. Every species on our planet has grown and adapted to thrive within its own environment. They have a purpose in their own home. But as we humans advance, we naturally wish to experiment with nature, and whether purposely or accidently, sometimes we throw our whole environment out of whack. Two instances of this are the introductions of the Japanese Beetle and the Killer Bee into the United States. Neither is native to our country, but they are both thriving and dominating over other native species. A short synapses of both follow.
The Japanese Beetle
Up here in Northern Minnesota, the abundance of the Japanese beetle is an annoyance that all of us have noticed. They invade our homes in the fall, and snack on our gardens and forests during the summer months. Where are they coming from? How are they affecting other plants and animals in the United States?
The Japanese beetle (scientifically known as Popillia Japonica) ventured over from Japan in the early 1900s. The unwelcome visitors are believed to have snuck over while in their grub stage, on the roots of an iris plant. . They were discovered in a nursery in New Jersey around 1914. It wasn’t long before a need to exterminate these pests was realized. Obviously these attempts were unsuccessful.
This insect’s diet consists of “flowers, fruit, and foliage of over 300 species of plants.” . They have caused the most damage to the east coast, but have slowly and steadily spread westward. The mere fact that they can survive the harsh Minnesota climate proves this pest is very resilient. Pesticides seem to be the only weapon available to protect our plants and crops.
There doesn’t seem to be any substantial proof of this outbreak of Japanese Beetles affecting animals yet. But common sense tells us if this overabundance of the species continues to increase, they will continue to destroy the plant life that some animal species rely on for food. Also, in attempt to protect our plants from these species through the use of pesticides, we may be harming the animals that feed on these plants, as well.
The reason they are so detrimental to our country’s ecosystem, and not Japan’s, is because they are native to Japan. “While there are many predators of the beetle in Japan, there are very few here in the United States, thus the widespread outbreak.” . Sure, we could start importing more species that prey on these beetles, but what would that do to our ecosystem? There are too many things to consider–and many things we can’t imagine considering–to take such a dangerous chance.
Efforts to keep the Japanese beetle under control still continue, even vigorously in some parts of our country, today. The use of pesticides seems to keep major damage to our plants at bay. The need to add this expense to our agriculture may drive our food prices up, but at least it seems to be sufficiently controlling the problem.
The study of Killer Bees makes a native of Northern Minnesota not want to leave the area! These vicious little buggers started migrating into the United States around 1990, via Texas. Originally from Africa, they made their way to this continent in 1956 when Brazilian scientists were “attempting to breed a honey bee better adapted to the South American tropics.”.
While no effects on plants have been specified, effects on animals (and humans) can be harmful, and even fatal. While they’re venom is no more potent than that of a honey bee, these aggressive killer bees attack in far greater numbers. They are agitated easier as well… the mere vibration of a vehicle will stir them up for up to 24 hours. They are attracted to our native honey bees for mating, which will eventually outbreed our more docile bees.
Both of the invaders mentioned above have proven to be quite a nuisance in the United States. Being that they are both rather new to our ecosystem, it is hard to say whether we will adapt to these aliens, or they will continue to harm our environment.
Bluegrass Gardens. (2007). Bluegrass Gardens. Retrieved January 9, 2009, from Control your Japanese Beetle population: http://www.bluegrassgardens.com/japanese-beetle-control.html
DesertUSA. (n.d.). DesertUSA. Retrieved January 9, 2009, from Africanized Honey Bees: http://www.desertusa.com/mag98/sep/stories/kbees.html
Japanese Beetle Quarantine. (2008). Retrieved January 9, 2009, from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~insects/jb.htm
Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. (2007, March 15). Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Retrieved Jaunuary 9, 2009, from Program to Eradicate Japanese Beetle In Utah: http://ag.utah.gov/plantind/JB-RevTempo_QA_Res2007.pdf