Although the scientific literature has relatively few publications on the subject, the expanding distribution of ticks and their associated disease-causing pathogens are increasingly shown to be facilitated by the presence of certain invasive plant species, particularly plant understory and transition-zone species. Invasive species have been found to contribute to the spread and survival of ticks, hosts, and various disease-causing pathogens. For those species that have been investigated, several invasive plant species such as Japanese honeysuckle and barberry have been definitively shown to harbor and enhance tick, host, and pathogen populations by enhancing microhabitat and survival. Additionally, non-native tick species such as Asian longhorn tick have been introduced and potentially new invasive tick-borne pathogens or hosts can, and likely will, be introduced in the future. For more publications, see ISAC White Papers.
Human Health Impacts
Invasive species can negatively impact human health by infecting humans with new diseases, serving as vectors for existing diseases, or causing wounds through bites, stings, allergens, or other toxins (Mazza et al. 2013). For instance, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), often considered the most invasive mosquito in the world, serves as a vector for many diseases, including West Nile Virus and Dengue fever (Benedict et al. 2007).
Other examples include the Africanized honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata), which demonstrates more aggressive behavior than the European honey bee and has been known to attack humans and domestic animals in larger swarms and over longer distances (Ellis and Ellis 2008), and the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), which can inflict extremely painful stings (Jemal and Hugh-Jones 1993).
See also: General Invasive Species Impacts
- Benedict, M.Q., R.S. Levine, W.A. Hawley, and L.P. Lounibos. 2007. Spread of the tiger: global risk of invasion by the mosquito Aedes albopictus. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 7(1):76-85.
- Ellis, J., and A. Ellis. 2008. African honey bee, Africanized honey bee, or killer bee, Apis mellifera scutellata Lepeletier (Hymenoptera: Apidae). In: J.L. Capinera (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Entomology (Vol. 4, pp. 59-66). Dordrecht: Springer.
- Jemal, A., and M. Hugh-Jones. 1993. A review of the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) and its impacts on plant, animal, and human health. Preventative Veterinary Medicine 17(1-2):19-32.
- Mazza, G., E. Tricario, P. Genovesi, and F. Gherardi. 2013. Biological invaders are threats to human health: an overview. Ethology Ecology & Evolution 26:112-129.
National Invasive Species Council. Invasive Species Advisory Committee.
The section below contains highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Human Health Impacts