They entered the territory of the New world along with the stirrings of the far Eastern dwarf elm.
Its spread across America could cause mass death of native elms stated in the article, published in the journal ZooKeys, reports Rus.Media.
“While we can not say that moths Stigmella multispicata severely threaten the lives of American trees. However, their distribution should follow – it is possible that these insects will start hitting not only the far East, but also native species of elm,” said Eric van Nieukerken (Erik van Nieukerken) from the Center of natural diversity in Leiden (the Netherlands).
So-called invasive species of insects, which penetrate into new areas and continents thanks to the unconscious “assistance” on the part of man is one of the main problems for the Earth’s environment today. For example, the penetration of Brazilian fire ants in the U.S. has caused the environmental catastrophe that destroyed several types of snails, and markedly reduced the abundance of other insects and even mammals.
The emergence of the African fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Europe, America and Asia, destroyed dozens of species of frogs and other amphibians, and the “invasion” of the Colorado potato beetle to the countries of the socialist bloc in the mid 60’s of the last century was a great tragedy for farms and households.
Van Nieukerken and his colleagues discovered another example of such living beings, conducting a “census” among the insects that live in the woods in upstate new York and the big cities of Ohio and Indiana, as well as in the southern regions of Canada. To do this, scientists hung out some specialized traps that allow invertebrates to fly to the territory, but not to leave their limits.
Studying assembled in a similar way to “harvest” environmentalists came across unknown species of moth, had a very unusual color and body shape. When researchers have attempted to find their relatives among the known butterflies of this type, they found that they caught the mole was “an illegal migrant” – a guest from the Russian Far East.
As noted by van Nieukerken, these butterflies have been discovered recently, in 2014, the expedition of Lithuanian biologists studied the flora and fauna of Primorye. As in the US, these insects have received the name Stigmella multispicata, feed on the leaves of the Siberian and far Eastern dwarf elm.
Interestingly, themselves far elms, the first planting of which began in the US in 1860, are now considered invasive species, gradually replacing other types of these trees from American forests and forest plantations.
The presence of far Eastern moths in two far apart parts of the world, as scientists believe, suggests that these butterflies have entered the territory of the United States and Canada as the result of purchasing live seedlings in the far East, together with which new regions penetrated and colonies Stigmella multispicata.
Despite the very rapid spread of this moth, and a large number of individuals, yet these butterflies have not begun to affect the local species of elm, which makes them relatively safe for the environment. On the other hand, the authors do not exclude that they can “switch” to a new diet if their number will increase even more, leading to more serious and dangerous changes in the ecosystem.