Stowaways in potted plants

Potted plants can seem so benign. Beautiful, fascinating, good to grow and give, but they may carry invasive species which are not benign. Tom Bawden at The Independent tells us about invasive species reaching Europe, including the New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) which could be a threat to native snails. Here’s the first report of P. manokwari in Europe.

Mr Bawden tells us about other invasive species which are in Britain, or which could arrive here soon. Those species include:
– the New Zealand flatworm (Arthurdendyus triangulatus or Artioposthia triangulata)
– the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)
– the Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris)
– the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina)
– the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea)
– the lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii)
– the light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana)
– the rosemary leaf beetle (Chrysolina americana)
– the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile)

Potted plants will never look the same now, will they? If you want to be even more afraid, you could explore the Invasive Species Compendium and the GB Non Native Species Secretariat.

Not all alien species are fearsome, of course. In fact living on a set of islands, we British people are used to sharing the land with aliens. And we get on just fine with people in the countries where many of the species we fear are not invasive at all. But sometimes ‘our’ species have become invasive on ‘their’ land. Invasive species are no joke when they invade in any direction.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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5 Responses to Stowaways in potted plants

  1. EQFE says:

    The Japanese Beetle was introduced into my native NJ through plants imported from Japan in 1916.

  2. EQFE says:

    Yes, it’s both a agricultural pet, and it’s grubs raise havoc with lawns. Now I don’t care about lawns, and their is a disease of the gubs, milky spores, which can be spread on lawns and is a quite effective control. The problem comes in, when folks spread poison on their lawns to kill the grubs quicker.

    • argylesock says:

      How interesting. I might get around to looking this one up. I wonder whether the biological control agent (a fungus?) sustains its own populations or whether it has to be reintroduced. Also whether it attacks non-target organisms, hence perhaps being a pest in its own right.

      Do you happen to know of a popsci review about it?

  3. Tony says:

    Playing catch up as ever Sam, but that is one hell of a lot of nasty invaders looking like visiting our shores. Feels like a ticking time-bomb for conservation but where there is hope and investment of time and money I would say we can overcome these issues.

    Best Wishes

    Tony Powell

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