Invasive Species of Florida

Spring is rapidly approaching and it’s been awhile since we talked about the subject of invasive species of Florida. First of all, what is an invasive species? Let’s find out!

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An invasive species is defined as an organism (plant, animal, fungus, or bacterium) that is not native and has negative effects on our economy, our environment, or our health. Not all introduced species are invasive. Invasive plants and animals are the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.This is especially important in a state like Florida since we have a subtropical climate with mild winters and longer summers, however, the northern states are not exempt from this. for example, New York has been dealing with brown marmorated stink bugs. Native to Asia, these pest have been spreading throughout New York, and surrounding states.

When talking about the invasive species of Florida, reptiles get a lot of attention by the press, and not without good reason. Unfortunately, the invasive reptiles that have established colonies in Florida, especially South Florida, are our own fault. Brought in through the pet trade Burmese pythons have become well established in southern Florida, as well as African Rock pythons. There are a few theories as to how this happened, one of the most popular theory being that an exotic animal dealer’s entire stock of reptiles was lost in 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. However, there were reports of these snakes before the storm, as well as several other invasive species like green iguanas. I think it comes down to this, reptiles require special care and attention in order to thrive in captivity. Often when reptiles are taken in as pets, the would-be keeper underestimates the time, cost, and dedication it takes to properly take care of the animal. This results in either the animal’s death through neglect after boredom sets in, or the keeper thinks it would be best to release the animal into the wild. Either way you look at it, it’s bad news for both parties. That’s the way many reptiles have been introduced to Florida.

Not all of the invasive species of Florida were purposely or carelessly let go into our ecosystem. There are some cases of stowaways, like many of the insect species we are dealing with. Many types of ants and roaches that we get calls for on a daily basis are not native to our state. Red imported fire ants, Argentine ants, ghost ants, rovers ants, Australian roaches, German roaches (don’t be fooled by the names. Neither Australian nor German roaches originated in the countries they were named after), all these pests and more are invasive species.

Today we’ll end our talk on the invasive species of Florida with a picture we took a couple years ago. Our technician was in an attic doing an inspection when he came across a Tokay gecko. Imagine doing a common inspection in a dark attic and shining your flashlight on the fellow below.

Invasive Species of Florida

dry winter ahead

The Australian roach is an invasive insect found in our range of Florida.