Invasive species cost humans billions a year

The Gambian giant pouched rat, brought to the U.S. in the pet trade, is invasive in Florida. Rats are among the costliest invasives, according to a new study. Credit: USDA photo by John Woolard

Invasive species have been on the rise around the world over the last decade, and so has the amount of money lost to them. In addition to the ecological problems they cause in the ecosystem, invasive species can lead to economic losses in agriculture, tourism and public health as managers have to deal with the damage they cause. Researchers recently looked at biological invasions around the world and estimated that invasive species have cost humans at least $1.288 trillion from 1970 to 2017. In 2017 alone, the money spent on invasives reached $162.7 billion. That was 20 times the budget of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Secretariat that year. Mosquitos were the most damaging, followed by rats and cats. Researchers say more money is needed to prevent, monitor and combat the spread of these species.

Read the study in Nature. Read more in Science News.