The costs of damage caused by invasions of alien species across the world is trebling every decade, research has found.
Mosquitoes, rats, ragweeds and termites are among the species that have hitched a ride on globalised trade routes, bringing disease, crop destruction and damage to buildings. The scientists calculated the costs at $1.3tn (GBP944bn) since 1970, and said even this “staggering sum” was likely to be a big underestimate as much damage is unreported.
The rapidly growing costs show no sign of slowing down, the researchers said, and are more than 10 times higher than the funding for preventing or dealing with these biological invasions. They said global action to combat invasive species remained limited, mostly because the “profound” impacts are poorly understood by the public and politicians.
Mosquitoes from the Aedes genus, such as the tiger mosquito, spread Zika, dengue, yellow fever and other viruses, and were responsible for the biggest recorded costs. Invasive rodents such as the black rat, grey squirrel, coypu and house mouse also cause severe damage to human health, crops and food stores and to native wildlife.