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March : Massive yet grossly underestimated global costs of invasive insects

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23 March, 2017

Massive yet grossly underestimated global costs of invasive insects

Corey J.A. Bradshaw1,2, Boris Leroy1,3, Ce´line Bellard1,4, David Roiz5,*, Ce´line Albert1,*, Alice Fournier1,
Morgane Barbet-Massin1, Jean-Michel Salles6, Fre´de´ric Simard5 & Franck Courchamp1,7,8

Insects have presented human society with some of its greatest development challenges by spreading diseases, consuming crops and damaging infrastructure. Despite the massive human and financial toll of invasive insects, cost estimates of their impacts remain sporadic, spatially incomplete and of questionable quality. Here we compile a comprehensive database of economic costs of invasive insects. Taking all reported goods and service estimates, invasive insects cost a minimum of US$70.0 billion per year globally, while associated health costs exceed US$6.9 billion per year. Total costs rise as the number of estimate increases, although many of the worst costs have already been estimated (especially those related to human health). A lack of dedicated studies, especially for reproducible goods and service estimates, implies gross underestimation of global costs. Global warming as a consequence of climate change, rising human population densities and intensifying international trade will allow these costly insects to spread into new areas, but substantial savings could be achieved by increasing surveillance, containment and public awareness.

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