Closed for June – Biological Control of Invasives

Greetings, BugFans,

The BugLady’s favorite cautionary tale about biological control of invasive species concerns rats that jumped ship in Hawaii in mid-1800’s and invaded the sugarcane fields (sugarcane being, of course, an introduced agricultural crop and a mainstay of Island economy).  Someone got the bright idea of introducing mongooses/mongeese (both plurals are acceptable) to control the rats (in science’s defense, it was private citizens who imported, bred, and released them, not biologists), and they were brought over between 1888 and the mid-1900’s.  “Why chase rats,” thought the mongeese, “when there are so many succulent, ground-nesting birds and sea turtle eggs?”  Before the arrival of rats, mongeese, and domestic/feral cats and dogs, there weren’t any mammalian predators on the Islands, so the birds were easy pickings.  Another basic problem was that mongeese are diurnal and rats are nocturnal (and so, as the BugLady’s Mom used to say, “never the twain shall meet”).  It was a disaster, and there have been, even when handled by the appropriate agencies, a long line of similar disasters.

Here’s the story of one of them.

And here’s a case in which biological control worked.

National Pollinator Week is June 20-26 – make the most of the rest of it. Here’s one of the BugLady’s favorite pollinator shots.

The BugLady