Here are the five costliest invasive species, and how much cost in damage they are.

Animals are a real threat to humanity. Google the world’s most dangerous animals, and you’ll come in second place. Do you deserve a medal? And with all that threat comes a great cost involved. That awkward moment when people troop to the streets with plaque cards demanding that the government fix an artificially induced natural threat such as climate change. You’ll soon be in the first place as the most dangerous creature. Dear friends, we’re not being rude to humanity today, but here are the five costliest invasive species in the world. Spoiler, you didn’t make the list.

#5. Fire Ants

SpeciesSolenopsis invicta;

Cost in damages: roughly US$17 billion since the 1970s.

Their fierce and aggressive foraging tactics make them a predominant species. Their chances of survival are higher than extinction when introduced to a new region. They make an excellent predatory species. Native to South America, fire ants can thrive in any condition. They made their way around the world during the 1930s by boats, mostly carried in the soil from the region.

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Fire ants soon made it to Australia and Southeast Asia. Fire ant colonies have devastating consequences: they attack almost anything in their way, from their typical stings and bites to feeding on seedlings. Eradicating their species has been a force to reckon with.

Have you ever been bitten by a fire ant before?

#4. Termites

SpeciesCoptotermes formosanus;

Cost in damages: roughly US$19 billion since the 1970s.

These are another fierce and aggressive subterranean species that are native to East Asia. They have managed to spread all around the world through global trade. Termites are capable of thriving under cellulose and moisture conditions — like woodlands. They easily build colonies upon their introduction into a new region.

Image: Adams Exterminating / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Their insane appetite for wood can wreak disaster on all forms of wooden structures, from homes to barns and even to bridges. They can also cause damage to farm crops, and the costs associated with their impact are mainly on infrastructure.

Have you ever been infested with termites before?

#3. Cats

SpeciesFelis catus;

Cost in damages: roughly US$52 billion since the 1970s.

We normally keep cats as pets in our homes, but little did we know about our cute though curious friends that they are costing us a lot. Native to almost all non-frozen parts of the world, their fierce hunting tactics make them excellent predators — their big cousins do it better. They prey on a variety of species ranging from insects to birds to their best-known arch-rival, rodents (next in this list).

According to estimates, cats kill approximately a billion birds each year in the United States alone. The economic damage inflicted by cats is a result of their impact on our livelihood, their domestication has made them a friendly predator.

Have you ever been attacked by a cat before?

#2. Rodents


Cost in damages: roughly US$67 billion since the 1970s.

Rats are also native to almost all non-frozen parts of the world, and their hitchhiking invasive abilities make them thrive anywhere. They find their way around the world by invading sailing vessels and arriving at new regions. They often outcompete other species for survival and can pose a threat to birds and some aquatic species, too.

Commercial Rodent Elimination | Ecolab
Image: Ecolab / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Rats have driven many species to extinction. The Pacific rat species native to mainland southeast Asia, for instance, wiped out at least a thousand species of island birds. But they are best known for invading farmlands, barns, warehouses, and our homes.

(Sad fact: Did you know that rats were largely involved in the transmission of the bubonic plague?)

Have you ever been invaded by rodents before?

#1. Mosquitoes

SpeciesAedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti;

Cost in damages: roughly US$149 billion since the 1970s.

Mosquitoes are the most dangerous species, and it is no surprise they cost us a lot. A. albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, made it to the US in the mid-’80s. It was first detected in Houston and quickly spread to 40 other states. It also invaded parts of Africa, Latin America, Australia, and southern Europe.

Image: Mary Ann Liebert | comparison of A. aegypti (left) and A. albopictus (right), their difference is seen in their foreheads

A. aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, and native to sub-Saharan Africa, has also made its way to other continents by similar means. These two are the most invasive species ever. Their damages include diseases like malariachikungunya, yellow fever, dengue, and the infamous Zika virus. Each disease is an industry of its own, costing billions of dollars each year.

Have you ever been bitten by a mosquito before? Like duh!

Let us know which species you think should have made the list.

Read more facts like this one in your inbox. Sign up for our daily email here.

The Factionary is ever ready to provide you with more interesting content for your reading pleasure. If you’re amazed by our work, you can support us on Patreon with a donation fee of your choice. Thank you!

Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Wed, Jan 13, 2021.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.