Invasive insects in the United States


gwilmore is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hive of the deadly, unwanted Giant Asian Hornets

Invasive insects, a history

In recent months, fears regarding the arrival of an invasive species of Asian hornets known as “Murder Hornets” have arisen, and slowly faded back into the background of the public eye. 

In spite of this flabbergasted and jittery reaction to the prospect of a new, destructive species of insect invading the United States, occurrences similar to this have happened before. Though, the Murder Hornets certainly do pose a different kind of threat than its predecessors, as will be explained later. 

In this article, three situations of fairly serious scale pertaining to the introduction of invasive insects into the United States will be covered, including the Murder Hornet itself. 

Asian Lady Beetle 

In a recent surge, Asian Lady Beetles, not to be confused with traditional, common Ladybugs, have been quietly increasing in number throughout the midwestern regions of the United States. While relatively undamaged in general, the small, intrusive insects are liable to become an infestation and can arrive in large numbers with very little warning.

Example of the insect in question
Asian Lady beetle, not to be confused with the Ladybug (Mo6nl is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

They often cluster in large numbers in buildings during the winter months in order to escape the cold. As this detail would imply, Asian Lady Beetles are drawn to heat, and are much more virulent during the summer and other warm patches throughout the year. They can be beneficial to certain types of farming, despite their adverse effects otherwise. 

They were originally introduced into the US in 1916 to control other insect pests, making them something of a ‘double-edged sword,’ as while they do accomplish this goal, they also act as their own infestation. 


Spotted-Wing Drosophila 

An example of the insect in question
Distinct from it’s cousins due to the spots on its wings (Oregon State University is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

An unusual species of fruit fly first became a relevant threat to ecosystems in the US in 2008, when it began to spread from its native California to the rest of the country. Unlike many other invasive species, the Spotted-Wing Drosophila is technically native to the continent itself, but up until recently, only to a very specific climate and area.

In terms of what they do and why it’s harmful, they are a parasitic species that feeds on and contaminates ripe fruit, which for obvious reasons is damaging to many sustenance farms. 



Murder Hornets 


Example of the insect in question
Large for their species, the Murder Hornet is an anomaly (chausinha is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The emergence of Murder Hornets, more properly known as the Asian Giant Hornet, has been a recent one in the United States, as the first ever nest of them in the region was found in October of this year. Unlike the other species mentioned above, the Murder Hornets can, and should they increase in number, likely will be potentially deadly to humans. 

They can sting through Beekeeping suits, and they administer over 7 times the amount of venom in a reusable sting than an average honey bee. Multiple consecutive stings from one or many can kill a human. 

Beyond this, they are also known to enter a ‘slaughter phase,’ in which they raid and decimate bee hives and kill all bees inside. Compounded with the ongoing endangerment of honeybees, and the presence of the Murder Hornet is one that has been taken very seriously by US Legislation.