Threat butterfly from Russia penetrated into North America, say scientists

© Photo : van Nieukerken et al. / Zookeys 2018Листья elm, amazed by the mole-babyThreat butterfly from Russia penetrated into North America, say scientists© Photo : van Nieukerken et al. / Zookeys 2018Подпишись to daily updates RIA Science

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. American environmentalists found in the East and the Western United States many colonies of the Siberian moth-a little girl, penetrated into the territory of the New world along with the stirrings of the far Eastern dwarf elm. Its spread across America could cause mass death of native elms stated in the article, published in the journal ZooKeys.

«While we can not say that moths Stigmella multispicata severely threaten the lives of American trees. However, their distribution should follow – it is possible that these insects will start hitting not only the far East, but also native species of elm,» said Eric van Nieukerken (Erik van Nieukerken) from the Center of biodiversity in Leiden (the Netherlands).

The so-called invasive species into new areas and continents thanks to the unconscious «assistance» on the part of man are one of the main problems for the Earth’s environment today. For example, the penetration of Brazilian fire ants in the U.S. has caused the environmental catastrophe that destroyed several types of snails, and markedly reduced the abundance of other insects and even mammals.

The emergence of the African fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Europe, America and Asia, destroyed dozens of species of frogs and other amphibians, and the «invasion» of the Colorado potato beetle in Russia and other countries of the socialist bloc in the mid 60’s of the last century was a great tragedy for farms and households.

Van Nieukerken and his colleagues discovered another example of such living beings, conducting a «census» among insects living in the woods in upstate new York and major cities of Ohio and Indiana, as well as in the southern regions of Canada. To do this, scientists hung out some specialized traps that allowed invertebrates to fly into them, but not to leave their limits.

Studying assembled in a similar way to «harvest» environmentalists came across unknown species of moth, had very unusual coloration and body shape. When researchers have attempted to find their relatives among the known butterflies of this type, they found that they caught the mole was «an illegal migrant» – a guest from the Russian Far East.

Interestingly, themselves far elms, the first planting of which began in the US in 1860, are now considered invasive species, gradually displacing other types of these trees from American forests and forest plantations.
The presence of far Eastern moths in two far apart parts of the world, as scientists believe, suggests that these butterflies have entered the territory of the United States and Canada as the result of purchasing live seedlings in the far East, together with which new regions penetrated and colonies Stigmella multispicata.

Despite the very rapid spread of this moth, and a large number of individuals, yet these butterflies have not begun to affect the local species of elm, which makes them relatively safe for the environment. On the other hand, the authors do not exclude that they can «switch» to a new diet if their numbers will rise even more, leading to more serious and dangerous changes in ecosystems.