Why are pests invading the U.S.?
Scientists look at climate change, travel patterns and weather to explain the headlines.
Tue, Jul 27 2010 at 2:56 PM
PESTILENCE PROBLEM: Experts say unique weather situations and travel may be behind this year's strange insect infestations. (Photo:budzlife/Flickr)
It’s no secret that bed bugs are back in New York City, invading boutiques like Victoria’s Secret. Discovery News reports that additional outbreaks of bugs, like spiders and ants and even lightning bugs, might be caused by weather and international travel.
The article cites several entomologists discussing this year’s early warm spring followed by cool weather which “allowed plants to thrive … and creat[ed] ideal conditions for aphids and other small insects that ants feed on to boom.” Meanwhile, other bugs like mosquitos and vine weevils are emerging earlier and earlier as “we’re seeing a seasonal shift as heat accumulates earlier.” Discovery News quotes University of Maryland’s Michael Raupp, who says that insects are cold-blooded and thus, “temperatures drive their development.”
Still other experts say the ant population in the U.S. has been on the rise for a while, but for reasons unrelated to weather conditions. While the rise of the house ant remains mysterious and complex, the bed bug and spider problems seem completely unrelated to the atmosphere. These critters appear to be riding on international travelers. The article reports examples of ships coming to port flush with foreign insects and bed bugs “hitchhiking” to U.S. hotels and hospitals.
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