SYDNEY – Invasive insects are estimated to cause damages to the tune of $77 billion per year, which is expected to rise with growing climate change and international trade, according to a study published Tuesday in Australia.
The study, called “Massive yet grossly underestimated costs of invasive insects,” says invasive insects are those introduced by humans in places outside their natural range and have been able to establish themselves and disperse to a new region, where they have turned out to be harmful.
Most of the goods and services affected by invasive insects “include agricultural, forestry and infrastructure damages, as well as many of the direct costs of cleanup and eradication, and the indirect costs of prevention,” the report’s author Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide (School of Biological Sciences) said in a statement.
The study has resulted in the preparation of the first databank of economic costs resulting from the presence of invasive insects, but it understates the total amount owing to a lack of data and research in Africa and South America.
The researchers believe that updated data would reveal an estimated annual cost of up to $270 billion.
Bradshaw, author of “Killing the Koala & Poisoning the Prairie,” also pointed out that millions of dollars are spent in the prevention of infectious diseases such as dengue, West Nile virus and chikungunya, which are all spread by insects.
He further said that international trade and global warming will result in an increase in frequency of the appearance and propagation of invasive insects, thus increasing damages.
The study, in which Centre national de la recherche scientifique (French National Center for Scientific Research) and Université Paris-Sud (University of Paris-Sud) also took part, put the annual global cost at about $70 billion in the goods and services sector.
The remaining cost, some $6.9 billion, corresponds to health, according to investigations published on scientific journal Nature Communications.
The most deadly insects include the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus), which come from eastern Asia and can eat 400 grams of wood per day, and the Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), from Eurasia and the most destructive of hardwood tree pests.