The Most Devastating Invasive Species

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Source: Insects Unlocked / Wikimedia Commons

16. Red Imported Fire Ant
> Scientific name: Solenopsis invicta
> Introduced to U.S.: Between 1930-1945
> Native to: South America

Make a trip to Florida and it’s very likely that you will see the red imported fire ant. The critter can sting livestock, pets, and humans. While a sting from this kind of ant will not kill a person, unless they are allergic to the venom, a sting can bring about severe itching and intense pain in some cases.

Source: GCapture / iStock

17. Russian Wheat Aphid
> Scientific name: Diuraphis noxia
> Introduced to U.S.: 1986
> Native to: Eurasia

The Russian wheat aphid is thought to have come to the U.S. with imported wheat to Mexico from South Africa. This small green insect wreaks havoc on wheat and barley. They inject toxins into the plant while they eat, which may stunt the plant’s growth and damage the plant altogether.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. Silverleaf Whitefly
> Scientific name: Bemisia tabaci
> Introduced to U.S.: 1897
> Native to: Possibly India or the Middle East

The silverleaf whitefly entered the U.S. as early as 1897, but the more aggressive strand didn’t pop up until nearly 100 years later, in 1986. The pest is actually quite gentle looking with its nearly translucent wings and yellow body. Contrary to its appearance, the insect is extremely detrimental to crops. As it feasts on agricultural goods, they inject viruses into the plant that ultimately cause damage.

Source: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab / Wikimedia Commons

19. Spotted Lanternfly
> Scientific name: Lycorma delicatula
> Introduced to U.S.: 2014
> Native to: China

The spotted lanternfly is a pesky insect that made its debut in the U.S. just four years ago. Hailing from China, it was first spotted in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and has since spread rapidly across several other counties in the east side of the state. The insect poses a severe threat to gardens, orchards, and woodlands. It’s likely the pest entered the country with imported woody plants and other wood products from southeast Asia.

Source: Charlesjsharp / Wikimedia Commons

20. European Starling
> Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
> Introduced to U.S.: 1890
> Native to: Eurasia

European starlings were intentionally introduced to the U.S. in the late 19th century, specifically to New York City’s Central Park, as part of a plan of introducing birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. The bird has had more than a century to spread to the other side of the country. The bird’s population exceeded 200 million in 2006. These birds pose a huge threat on agricultural crops. They enjoy eating cultivated apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and figs just to name a few. European starlings also are known to pull from the ground grains that are just beginning to sprout and eat the planted seed, which ultimately hinders crop production.