Insect ‘invaders’ wreaking havoc on indigenous species


It took just a few years for the red palm weevil, which appeared in Greece in 2004 with the mass imports of palm trees for the Olympic Games, to exterminate many species of palms.

Entomologists have identified 496 different species of such “invaders,” some of which are just as harmful to indigenous trees, plants and insects. In an effort to enhance knowledge on the subject, a team of scientists have created a website where anyone can help record them.

“It is estimated that 30% of the alien species of insects are Coleoptera (beetles), 25% are Hemiptera (e.g. stink bugs), 15% are Hymenoptera (e.g. wasps, bees, ants), 10% are Lepidoptera (moths, butterflies), while about 7% are diptera (flies),” said Christos Georgiadis, curator of the entomological collection of the Museum of Zoology of the University of Athens and secretary of the Hellenic Zoological Society.