Risks and pathways: Invasive insects

Our Risks and Pathways Project set out to identify insect species from other countries that, if they ever reach Australia, have the potential to cause great harm to our natural environment.

Australia is already home to more than enough invasive insects. Colonists like red imported fire ants, electric ants, browsing ants, yellow crazy ants, Argentine ants, African big-headed ants, Asian honey bees, large earth bumblebees and German wasps cost our environment and economy dearly.

Given the difficulties and costliness of eradicating and controlling such insects, one over-riding priority for Australia must be to prevent more harmful species arriving and establishing. To do this, biosecurity authorities need to know which insects overseas represent the greatest invasive risks for Australia and how they are likely to arrive here.

In a project funded primarily by the Ian Potter Foundation, the Invasive Species Council and the McGeoch Research Group of Monash University, we set out to identify high-priority potential insect invaders to Australia that could harm the natural environment, and their likely impacts and pathways of arrival.

We’ve developed profiles on nine of these insect species. Evidence of harm elsewhere is the most reliable way to predict potential invasion risks. These are insects we definitely want to keep out of Australia.

This is a joint project of the Invasive Species Council and Monash University. It has been funded mainly by the Ian Potter Foundation, with supplemental funding from the Australian Department of Agriculture and the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.