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New Invasive Insect Threatens America

August 16th, 2017

Last year farmers and agricultural professionals were stumped as to what was killing so much Roseau cane, a tall grass-like plant that grows all over the world. In the United States Roseau cane grows around the mouth of the Mississippi river. After a few months, the reason for the mass death of these plants was finally found, and it came from Asia. An insect that is known as the Roseau cane scale has been killing numerous grassy cane plants in the southeastern US.

Not only is Roseau cane used for economic purposes, but its existence is also necessary to maintain the health of the marshy ecosystem found in the south. One reason why researchers have had such a hard time solving the mass Roseau cane plant deaths has to do with the size of the invasive insect pests that have been feeding on these canes. The Roseau cane scale is smaller than a fingernail. Despite their small size, these bugs have been turning swaths of grassy canes into barren fields of dead vegetation.

The scare caused by this sudden lack of healthy Roseau cane fields resulted in the coming together of academics as well as state and federal agencies. Federal funding has already been requested in order to properly study this devastating and tiny invasive insect pests. Even members of the public have begun to worry about their well cultivated gardens. Nearby farmers are also concerned about the possibility of this invasive scale insect hopping to other crops, especially sugar-cane crops. Experts all seem to agree that different crops throughout America are all at risk of infestation by this invasive scale insect.

Researchers have run into many logistical problems concerning monitoring and eradication efforts. For example, some experts have considered the release of wasps in order to cut down on scale insect populations, as wasps are natural predators to scale insects like the Roseau cane scale. However, wasps can also cause many other problems. Hopefully, the experts think of a method of pest control before the Roseau cane scale invades all of America’s crops.

Had you ever heard of the Roseau cane scale insect before? Were you aware that other scale insects could be considered insect pests?

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