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Nuisance insects and climate change

By Helen Roy, Björn Beckmann, Richard Comont, Rosemary Hails, Richard Harrington, Jolyon Medlock, Bethan Purse and Chris Shortall


Changes in ecology, climate and human behaviour over recent decades have favoured the development and increased prevalence of urban pests, including nuisance insects. The potential for nuisance insect species to increase in prevalence in the UK as a result of climate change is addressed in this report through two key objectives: 1: To complete a desk top study to determine the current level of knowledge in relation to new and existing species of insect with the potential to cause statutory nuisance in the UK as a result of current and predicted climate change 2: To investigate the potential for new and existing species of insect to cause statutory nuisance to occur in the UK as a result of current and predicted climate change In the first section of this report we consider the first objective and present an inventory of nuisance insects and discuss the availability of information on these species to Environmental Health Officers (EHOs). We conclude from this section that defining an insect as a statutory nuisance should be on a case-by-case basis; an insect will be a statutory nuisance in some scenarios but not others (particularly in relation to the source and abundance of the insects). In addition, we focus on two subsidiary objectives: 3. To devise a programme or technique for monitoring trends in the insects of most concern 4 To devise a list of strategies that Environmental Health Officers can apply locally and disseminate to residents. We comment on the wealth of literature and information on nuisance insect species but note the lack of a central information source for EHOs and other interested parties. We suggest that a central repository would be a valuable tool for EHO‟s particularly if it included fact sheets (providing relevant biological information for EHO‟s) and distribution maps. We advocate the use of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway as a resource for providing distribution data but discuss the current limitations in terms of available data. We have appended example fact sheets for a number of species.\ud In the second section of this report we consider nuisance insects more broadly than encompassed in the statutory nuisance definition, and provide examples of species that have\ud 6\ud already been recorded in Britain (native and non-native including residents and occasional immigrants) or are potential invaders (non-native new arrivals). The methods used to review the literature on nuisance insects species and the impacts of climate change on their distribution, in a systematic way, are described. We highlight the nuisance insect species that are unlikely to be affected by climate warming Blattella germanica (german cockroach), Cimex lectularius (bed bug), Monomorium pharaonis (Pharaoh‟s ant), Anobium punctatum (woodworm), Ctenocephalides felis (cat fleas), Lyctus brunneus (powderpost beetle), Hylotrupes bajulus (house longhorn), Tineola bisselliella (common clothes moth), Dolichovespula media (media wasp) and Vespa crabro (European hornet). The ten species most likely to increase with climate warming are Tinearia alternata (moth fly), Lasius neglectus (invasive garden ant), Thaumetopoea processionea (oak processionary moth), Linepithema humile (Argentine ant), Reticulitermes grassei (Mediterranean termite), Culex pipiens molestus (urban mosquito), Culex pipiens pipiens (mosquito), Aedes vexans (mosquito – wetland), Ochlerotatus cantans (mosquito – woodland) and Musca domestica (house fly). The ten species most likely to increase with changes in precipitation are the same as for increasing temperature with the exception of Musca domestica and inclusion of Phlebotomus mascittii (sand fly). We provide two detailed case studies illustrating potential modelling approaches: biting midges and mosquitoes. In addition, we highlight the potential for further studies which would enable detailed quantitative analysis, such as demonstrated in the case studies, to be undertaken across taxa

Topics: Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Defra
Year: 2009
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