PHOTOS & VIDEOS
InvadersApril 11, 2014
Researchers say that humans have brought about 50,000 foreign species into the United States. Some of these species have become invasive. This means that their introduction has caused environmental, economic, or health problems.
Asian Long-Horned Beetle
The Asian long-horned beetle turned up in New York in 1996 and has since surfaced in several other states. Experts believe the beetles were accidentally brought to Brooklyn, New York, from China in wooden packing crates. The wood-chomping insects have killed thousands of trees in the U.S. Illinois and New Jersey managed to get rid of the bugs, but other states are still battling the beetles.
The Mississippi and Illinois Rivers are teeming with Asian carp. The invasive fish compete with native fish for food. Some leap into boats and hit boaters in the head! The fish were imported in the 1970s from Asia for fish farms in the Midwest. At some point, they escaped into the Mississippi River, and they have steadily moved upstream since. Now scientists fear Asian carp may have found their way into the Great Lakes.
The coqui is beloved in Puerto Rico but is seen as an annoying pest in Hawaii, where it was accidentally introduced more than two decades ago. The tiny tree frog has flourished in its new home, disrupting the balance of species there. Noisy coquis compete with the island’s rare birds for food and eat insects that pollinate flowers. Hawaiians are working to keep the frogs’ numbers in check.
Nutria were brought to the U.S. from South America in the 1930s to be raised for their fur. While the fur industry flourished, trappers kept wild nutria populations under control. Since fur has fallen out of fashion, nutria numbers have skyrocketed. By digging and gnawing at grasses, the orange-toothed rodents have ruined thousands of acres of marshland in Louisiana and Maryland.
Burmese pythons are popular pets in the U.S. But they grow rapidly and have big appetites. Many python owners find it difficult to care for the snakes, which originated in Southeast Asia. So they dump them in the wild. Now an exploding population of pythons is threatening the wildlife of Florida’s Everglades, where the snakes have no natural predators. They prey on mammals, birds, and other reptiles.