It starts with one, maybe a few, hitchhiking bugs.
They arrive attached to an exotic plant or in the moist bottom of a vase after crossing a border or an ocean or the sky.
Sometimes – maybe even most of the time – the invasive creature dies off soon after landing in Southern California. But a few find the region to their liking, thriving with no natural predators and abundant food. A few even gain such a powerful foothold in their new home that they become threats to crops and forests and industries. Click on the following paragraph to access the full story.
And as our climate changes, the problem is only accelerating. Before 1989, California tracked about six new invasive insects a year, a species count that doesn’t include mammals, fish and other creatures. Between 1989 and 2010, the invasive species count in the state jumped by about 50 percent, to roughly nine newcomers a year, according to experts.