Some of the most troublesome urban insect pests thrive in San Diego’s coastal Mediterranean climate where they infest homes and buildings all year round. In addition to being home to many of the most economically and medically harmful insect pest species found in the US, San Diego is also home to a relatively high number of invasive insect pest species. Invasive insects are non-native species that establish permanent and pestiferous populations in geographic areas outside of their natural habitat range.

Most insect species that are inadvertently transported to regions outside of their native range fail to locate the food sources they need to survive. Even in cases when insect species are able to secure the resources they need to survive within non-native regions, they will probably fall prey to a native predator. However, some insect species arrive in exotic locales where their usual predators are almost entirely absent and food sources happen to be plentiful. In these cases, non-native insects become invasive pests that rapidly proliferate and become more widespread. This results in significant harm to ecosystems, and in many cases, serious economic damage in urban and suburban areas.

The most problematic invasive insect pest species in San Diego include the red-imported fire ant, the Argentine ant, the Africanized honey bee (aka the killer bee), the Mediterranean fruit fly, and the extremely destructive Formosan subterranean termite. All of these invasive insect species have become permanently established in San Diego where they serve as the most economically costly pests in populated areas within the city. This is especially true when it comes to Africanized honey bees in the city, as a whopping 95 percent of wild honey bees in San Diego are now Africanized.

Although red-imported fire ants, Africanized honey bees, and Formosan subterranean termites are prevalent in San Diego, they are either scarce or entirely absent from nearby Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. This is likely due to non-native insects hitching rides in shipping containers that are unloaded from trade vessels at the Port of San Diego. The Port of San Diego is one of the busiest ports in the US, and it’s where much of the country’s agricultural foodstuffs arrive from overseas crops where a great number of troublesome insect pest species thrive. After these pests establish an invasive population in San Diego, area-wide control efforts usually succeed in halting their expansion into more northern cities in California.

Have you ever spotted a Formosan subterranean termite swarm near your home?

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