Quick Fire Science

Quick Fire Science episode

Wed, 16th Oct 2013

Invasive Species

Spanish slug (c) Håkan Svensson

It’s official: the UK has a slug problem. This week, researchers from the John Innes Centre in Norwich asked the public for help to help them track down the Spanish slug, a rapidly reproducing invasive species that eats crops and is not deterred by slug pellets. Here’s your quick fire science on invasive species, with Matt Burnett and Simon Bishop.

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  • Invasive Species

    With researchers asking for help to track the Spanish slug, here's your quick fire science on invasive species...



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We're being hit by another invasive species here in the Northwest USA.
The spotting wing fruit fly, or Drosophila suzukii.  Unlike the normal variety of fruit fly that waits till fruits start rotting, the spotted wing fruit fly will attack many soft fruits on the tree.  Staggering crop harvests makes it worse by allowing them to spread from one tree to the next a little later, and the numbers can multiply rapidly after the initial infestation.

One proposed control is to bring in a wasp that apparently eats its eggs, but I'm not convinced that more wasps are the answer.

I do wonder, however, if invasive species are inevitable.  Imagine all the fruit imported to the USA that a fruit fly might hitch hike on. 

Slugs can come with live plants and roots.

As mentioned, clams can hitchhike on ship hulls, and now there are concerns that Japanese Tsunami debris may also bring invasive species.

Florida now has a problem with the Burmese Python, perhaps escaped from captivity during the Hurricane Andrew aftermath.  And they're not your typical garden snakes either.

In the new Global Economy, total isolationism isn't the answer.  Perhaps one solution is to work with the local governments to provide a pathway for the introduction of new species with vigorous testing and controls.  At least to prevent intentionally importing problem species. CliffordK, Wed, 23rd Oct 2013

Australia tried it I think?
Didn't work out as planned. yor_on, Fri, 27th Dec 2013

Unfortunately, humans are the ultimate invasive species! evan_au, Tue, 31st Dec 2013

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