Invasive species have an enormous potential to devastate farmers, diminishing crop output and increasing their fiscal and temporal expenditures. Invasive species, particularly insects, destroy farmers’ harvests as they consume fruits and vegetables. Some insects, such as the Mexican Bean Beetle, lay their eggs on the leaves of the plants, so that when the larvae hatch, they consume the leaves and destroy the plant (Reinhardt). The damage invasive species inflict on crops is comparable to the damage caused by natural disasters, such as floods, thunderstorms, or early frosts. Both have the capacity to destroy an entire harvest, cutting into the farmer’s profit (Burgess). By demolishing these hard-earned crops, they force farmers to expend additional time and money to try and control the damage (Raupp Can Wasps Squash the Stink Bug Plague). Most often, farmers’ remedy to combating the devastation is to invest time and money on pesticides or herbicides, which once again reduces a farmer’s total profit (Burgess). However, these expenditures are frequently pointless, as pesticides are often ineffective at controlling invasive insects and may harm beneficial insects (Leskey), which results in a critical dilemma. Farmers must invest in pesticides to try and save their crop, but at the same time, pesticides can reduce the value of produce and may be ineffective due to environmental factors, such as rain, misapplication, and insect resistance to the pesticide (Why Would a Pesticide Not Work? np). In short, farmers may be investing much and gaining little when they purchase pesticides (Burgess). Some farmers feel that invasive species, particularly insects, could be more readily combated if stronger pesticides were allowed, but government officials are reluctant to permit the utilization of stronger chemicals as doing so could have inauspicious environmental repercussions (Raupp Can Wasps Squash the Stink Bug Plague) as well as negative health consequences as pesticide residue may linger in fruits’ skin (Assessing Health Risks From Pesticides np). However, organic farmers are unable to turn to pesticides when it comes to the protection of their crops, and they are consequently especially hard-hit by invasive species. Organic cultivators must therefore develop more innovative methods of control, such as crop rotation, Integrated Pest Management, companion planting, and traps (Burgess). Some organic farmers have even had to surrender and either lose their crops or lose their organic label, as they find it impossible to control invasive insect damage without using chemicals (Lipske np). An issue that affects all farmers, not merely organic growers, is the fact that the damage is caused quickly; certain invasive insects can destroy a harvest overnight, meaning farmers have little time to attempt to manage this damage, and no advanced warning so that they can attempt to take preventative measures (Burgess). As invasive species, especially exotic insects, feed on crops, they often cause aesthetical damage that may ruin the taste of the fruit as well. This aesthetical damage displeases average American consumers and supermarket standards and makes them less inclined to purchase the “damaged” fruit or vegetable, once again reducing an optimum sale and therefore a farmer’s profit (Reinhardt).
Agricultural Impacts of Invasive Species
One of the primary reasons invasive species are such a nuisance is that they inflict an extraordinary amount of damage on farmers' harvests.