Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 921–933 | Cite as

Increasing numbers and intercontinental spread of invasive insects on eucalypts

  • Brett P. HurleyEmail author
  • Jeff Garnas
  • Michael J. Wingfield
  • Manuela Branco
  • David M. Richardson
  • Bernard Slippers
Insect Invasions


Native to Australasia, Eucalyptus (sensu lato) is one of the most planted genera of trees in the world. However, the sustainability of Eucalyptus species as plantation trees in non-native areas is increasingly threatened by the introduction and spread of Eucalyptus-feeding insects from Australia. We examine patterns and potential trends with respect to the global spread of Eucalyptus-feeding insects. Likely pathways of introduction and drivers of the rapid distribution of these insects, as well as management options are considered. The rate of introductions is shown to have increased nearly fivefold since the 1980s. As a result, the number of non-native pests of eucalypts outside of Australia has doubled in less than three decades. Furthermore, the rate of secondary spread among continents has also increased. Surprisingly, we found no association between area planted and the number of pests or new introductions. Only a small number of countries have been the points of first detection outside the native range; these countries have acted as bridgeheads to other regions. Quarantine regulations aimed at reducing the spread of invasive organisms appear to be ineffective at a global scale, and pathways allowing these invasions to occur are poorly understood or unknown. An expanded suite of management options are needed to provide resilience against the rapid accrual and homogenization of eucalypt pests, thereby ensuring the sustainability of eucalypt forestry worldwide.


Biological invasions Eucalyptus Bridgehead effect Pathway management Forestry Pest homogenization 



Members of the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of South Africa, are acknowledged for their financial support. This paper had its origin at a workshop on “Drivers, impacts, mechanisms and adaptation in insect invasions” hosted by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in November 2014. Additional financial support was provided by HortGro, the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant 85417), Stellenbosch University, and SubTrop.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett P. Hurley
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jeff Garnas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael J. Wingfield
    • 1
  • Manuela Branco
    • 3
  • David M. Richardson
    • 4
  • Bernard Slippers
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.Centro de Estudos Florestais (CEF), Instituto Superior de Agronomia University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  5. 5.Department of GeneticsUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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