There are numerous methods of management for invasive species, and while none are universally effective, some are more effectual and involved than others. Organic management methods are more involved strategies that do not include chemicals or pesticides: they are purely physical means of control. This is generally summed up in the term “Integrated Pest Management,” which is the combination of pest control techniques for the purpose of achieving the best results while having little impact on the environment (Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Principles np). One organic control method is known as “trap-cropping,” in which farmers surround their cash crop with a crop the invasive species would prefer to eat in the hopes that the invasives will eat the trap-crop and ignore the cash crop that farmers are trying to protect. Some farmers will even burn the trap-crop in an attempt to eliminate invasive species, particularly if insects are the reason for the trap-crop (Leskey). More traditional traps are a particularly successful way in which to eliminate exotic insects (Farquhar 28-30). These snares often release or contain a pheromone that attracts a particular species of invasive insects. When invasive insects are drawn in by the pheromone they become trapped, and once they are ensnared in a confined area, it is possible for farmers to dispose of them (Leskey). Some farmers choose not to use traps in their endeavors to control invasive insects, and instead opt to introduce native predatory species, such as birds and praying mantises, to try and manage the invasive insect population (Reinhardt). In order to attract these predators, farmers will construct birdhouses or create bird-friendly scenes, and some will even purchase insects such as praying mantises to introduce to their gardens (Burgess).
Some farmers decide to utilize inorganic methods of management as they attempt to control invasive insects. These inorganic strategies often include synthetic chemicals, better known as pesticides, and depending on the target insect and the potency of the pesticide, these chemicals have the capacity to be extremely effective (Control Methods np). Pesticides are lethal chemicals sprayed on crops for the purpose of killing harmful invasive insects. Problems arise when pesticides leech into the crops or are ineffective at killing the target insect and instead reduce the population of beneficial insects. Pesticides can also be extremely expensive and time-consuming to apply, so individuals must be extremely cautious when purchasing and applying pesticides.
Biocontrol is a method that has the potential to be extremely effective as it confronts one of the major dilemmas of invasive species. One of the reasons invasive species are so damaging is that when they move to a new region, their natural predators do not accompany them. Biocontrol is the importation of these predatory species into an infested area in the hopes that the predator will be able to reduce or eliminate the population of the original invasive species (Hoddle 38-49). However, biocontrol as a means of suppressing invasive species inherently contains risks; there is always the chance that the biocontrol agent will negatively impact the environment beyond the target species, and become more devastating than the original invasives. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct large scale research on a potential biocontrol agent prior to importing that species into the infested area (Hoddle 38-49).
The Sterile Insect Technique
The Sterile Insect Technique is a means of control tailored specifically to invasive insects. It is the release of radiation-sterilized males into the environment in order to reduce the numbers of the problem species. If enough sterile males are released, females will lay fewer viable eggs than fertile eggs, and the population will decrease. This is an extraordinarily effective management method, but the target species needs to meet several requirements in order for the technique to be most successful (The Sterile Insect Technique np). For instance, females can only mate once during their lives for this technique to be effectual (Leskey). In addition, the Sterile Insect Technique is an extraordinarily expensive endeavor, and it can be problematic trying to ascertain the proper dosage of radiation so that the males will be sterile but survive the treatment (Bean).