10 Deviously Invasive Bugs Scientists Want You to Kill


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If just the mere thought of a bug makes your skin crawl, you’re not alone. While some insects are harmless, certain species pose significant threats to ecosystems, agriculture, and even human health. Scientists have identified several particularly destructive bugs that, if encountered, should be eradicated. These pests, which often do not have natural predators in their new environments, can proliferate unchecked and cause extensive harm to native species and resources.

Here are 10 types of invasive insects that scientists urge people to kill on sight to prevent further damage to our natural world.

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1. Spotted Lanternfly

Aside from giving us the heebie-jeebies with its creepy polka-dotted appearance, this insect, which is native to Asia, has made its way to the U.S. and become a major menace to farmers. It primarily feeds on the sap of various plants, including grapevines, maples, and black walnuts, causing significant agricultural damage. The spotted lanternfly also secretes a sugary substance called honeydew, which promotes mold growth and further harms plants and crops. 

Its rapid spread poses a serious threat to the wine, orchard, and logging industries, so if you encounter these flying freaks, go ahead and squash them. 

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2. Asian Longhorned Beetle

Known for its distinctive black and white coloring, this beetle targets hardwood trees such as maple, birch, and elm by using its long antennae and powerful mandibles. Their larvae then burrow deep into the wood and disrupt the tree’s nutrient flow, eventually killing it. This beetle’s destructive capabilities can devastate forests and urban landscapes alike, leading to costly tree removals and loss of biodiversity. It was first discovered in several ports across North America in the 1990s. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture thus recommends eradicating this pest to protect valuable tree species and prevent more widespread ecological damage.

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3. Emerald Ash Borer

Native to northeastern Asia, this metallic-looking green beetle has wreaked havoc on ash trees across North America, says the USDA. The larvae feed on the inner bark, which cuts off the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients to sustain itself. Infestations have already led to the death of hundreds of millions of ash trees, as the beetle spreads rapidly and overwhelms both urban and forested areas. This can result in severe ecological imbalances and billions in economic losses.

Early detection and removal are vital to prevent further spread and preserve ash populations, which are vital for maintaining biodiversity and keeping the soil rich. 

Image Credit: Tomasz Klejdysz/istockphoto.

4. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

This shield-shaped insect, originating from East Asia, is another loathed agricultural pest. Since it feeds on a wide variety of crops, including fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals, it causes significant yield losses and cosmetic damage to yards and landscapes. In addition to its agricultural impact, the stink bug becomes a nuisance by invading homes in large numbers during the colder months as they search for warmer environments to survive in. 

Controlling its population can thereby help protect both food production and residential areas. The USDA recommends sealing entry points in homes to prevent infestations, or using pyramid traps to capture them. 

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5. Red Imported Fire Ant

These aggressive ants, which are native to South America, are known for their painful stings and destructive behavior. They build large mounds and can quickly overrun agricultural fields by damaging crops and even machinery. Fire ants also multiply extremely quickly and pose a health risk to livestock, pets, and humans since their stings can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. 

Eliminating fire ant colonies, which are mainly found in warmer climates, helps safeguard agriculture and reduce the risk of painful stings. 

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6. Gypsy Moth

This invasive moth from Europe has a voracious appetite for the leaves of over 300 tree and shrub species. During outbreaks, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate entire forests and plants that stand in its path. This disrupts ecosystems, reduces biodiversity, and can have long-term impacts on timber industries. Female gypsy moths are also known to lay eggs on various surfaces, including outdoor furniture, vehicles, and firewood, which can inadvertently spread the infestation to new areas.

You can help repel them by using pheromone traps to disrupt mating, or by applying biological pesticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to keep their numbers in check. 

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7. Kudzu Bug

Originating from Asia, this small, brownish-green bug feeds on legumes, particularly soybeans. But its unquenchable feeding habits reduce crop yields and quality, posing a significant threat to agricultural and farming industries. In addition, kudzu bugs, which are also known as bean plataspids, can invade homes in large numbers. This can become a nuisance for homeowners, not to mention very costly if professional pest control services are needed to manage the infestations.

You can help manage their population growth by sealing cracks and entry points in your home to prevent invasions, using insecticides on infested plants, and removing any kudzu vines from your property.

Image Credit: Dinar Bud/istockphoto.

8. Asian Citrus Psyllid

A major threat to citrus crops, this small but atrocious-looking insect is a vector for citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB). HLB severely affects citrus trees, leading to reduced fruit production and eventual tree death. The spread of the disease has devastated citrus industries in several countries, causing significant economic losses across industries like agriculture and food processing. 

Controlling the Asian citrus psyllid is critical to preventing the spread of HLB and protecting citrus orchards, says the USDA. It recommends regular monitoring of citrus trees by using insecticides to manage psyllid populations. You can also implement quarantine measures to prevent the movement of infected plants and pests.

Image Credit: Lam Van Linh/istockphoto.

9. Japanese Beetle

This metallic green and copper-colored beetle is highly destructive to over 300 plant species, including ornamental and agricultural plants like roses, grapes, and turfgrass. Both the adult beetles and their larvae cause extensive damage; adults skeletonize leaves while larvae feed on roots and damage lawns and pastures. The Japanese beetle’s broad diet and high reproductive rate make it a formidable pest that requires vigilant control measures to protect plants and landscapes.

The USDA recommends using several pest management strategies to control these pesky beetle populations, including manual removal of beetles, applying insecticides to affected areas, and introducing natural predators such as parasitic wasps. 

Image Credit: Renman1605/istockphoto.

10. European Corn Borer

This type of moth, which is native to Europe, is another major pest for corn and other crops. The larvae bore into the stems and ears of corn plants, disrupting nutrient flow and causing structural damage. Infestations lead to reduced yields and increased susceptibility to other pests and diseases. Managing this pest is thereby crucial for maintaining healthy crop production and minimizing economic losses.

The USDA recommends using crop rotation, planting resistant crop varieties, and applying biological control methods such as releasing parasitic wasps and using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to target its larvae.

Image Credit: Wirestock/istockphoto.

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