Invasive Insects: Risks and Pathways Project Report

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Harmful insects from overseas can pose massive threats to Australia’s native plants and animals, human health and the economy if they breach the country’s biosecurity borders.

Australia can’t afford to allow in any more insect 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.

These invaders are costing both the Australian environment and economy dearly. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on Australia-wide eradications of red fire ants, electric ants and browsing ants because of their potential for devastating harm to wildlife and impacts on people. The others have spread too far to remove, so are here in perpetuity as a threat to biodiversity, human amenity and the economy, and a burden for future generations to manage.

Given the difficulties and costliness of eradicating or controlling invasive insects, one over-riding priority for Australian biosecurity must be to prevent more harmful species arriving and establishing. To do this, biosecurity authorities need to know which insects overseas (an estimated 4–6 million species) represent the greatest invasive risks for our country and how they are likely to arrive here. Biosecurity authorities already know which insects are the prevention priorities for agriculture, but there is no such list covering insects that could harm the Australian environment.

This report investigates which insects overseas represent the greatest risks for the country and the pathways through which they could arrive.

It was produced as part of the Invasive Insects Risks and Pathways Project. The project was made possible with support from the Ian Potter Foundation and the Australian and Queensland governments.

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