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This Invasive Russian Insect Has Been Causing Problems For American Farmers Since The Cold War | New Jersey Pest Inspection

Filed under: New Jersey Pest Inspection — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:18 am March 10, 2017

This Invasive Russian Insect Has Been Causing Problems For American Farmers Since The Cold War | New Jersey Pest Inspection

The title of this article sounds like the Russians resorted to insect-warfare during the latter days of the cold war. Although that would make for an interesting story, the Russians never sent invasive insects to destroy America’s food supply, probably anyway. However, a nasty and destructive insect originating from Russia did find its way into America during the 1980’s, and not as a cold war tactic.

The Russian wheat aphid is unique in how problematic they are to American farmers. Unlike most invasive insects, the Russian wheat aphid (RWA) managed to find true love with the American western wheat aphid. That may sound like the plot of a feel good Disney movie, but sadly, the result of this intercontinental love union between two insect pests has resulted in tremendous damages and losses for American farmers as well as the American economy.

When the Russian aphid mates with the native American aphid a hybrid aphid naturally results. Although the offspring of the two different aphids are somewhat similar in appearance and behavior, the hybrid offspring is even more equipped to cause devastation to plant life than its two parent aphids. The resulting hybrid aphid, or the Russo-American aphid, is specially adapted and far more injurious to both wheat and barley than its parents.

The Russian aphid intruder is native to the Russian steppes and central Asia, and it spread to nearly every region on the planet over the course of decades. The Russian aphid was first spotted in the western United States and Canada in 1986. Researchers are already spotting territories in the western and midwestern United States where the hybridized aphids are creating their own environments in which they live off of the nearby wheat grass. Experts from Asia and Russia are working in conjunction with American officials to stamp out these insect-pests before they cause irreversible damage to crops.

Have you ever heard of another insect hybrid that entomologists considered invasive?