There’s no getting away from the unexpected consequences of introducing a new plant or animal in the age of global travel and trade. Whether it’s an ornamental plant that escaped its pot or a bug that hitched a ride in a box of bananas, invasive species are a part of modern life. They can be downright dangerous, but the ones that we notice most are frequently the irritating rather than deadly ones. Here are a few of the most annoying invasive aliens introduced to the US.
When waves of buzzing stinking beetles swept through America, many people went running to seek stink bug pest control only to find that there wasn’t much to be done. The Brown marmorated stink bug didn’t have any natural predators and could squeeze through the smallest cracks to make their way into your home. They smelled like concentrated cilantro, left brown spots on fruit in orchards, and stains on curtains and lampshades.
Kudzu is such a defining feature of the South, it’s hard to remember that it’s not native to the area, but “the vine that ate the South” was introduced to the area in the 30s as a way for farmers to help control erosion. It spreads fast and grows quickly, sometimes as much as a foot a day, and is immune to most herbicides. It’s hard to find anywhere in the South that hasn’t been completely swamped by the vine.
Pigeons are one of the great annoyances of city life. While some find them pretty and feed them in the parks, it can’t be denied that they’re not a natural part of the American ecosystem. Nuisances and disease vectors, making a mess with their nests and refuse, pigeons are as annoying an invasive as any other. They are a good example of how invasive species, over time, become an accepted part of life, not just an unavoidable irritant.