News Stories

New Bug in Town

One sign that the world is warming up is when insects that normally live in the south start arriving in areas with colder climates. This is happening already in the U.K., where the stink bug?familiar in the American South?is now living. "I'm always reluctant to invoke global warming but it's the only explanation," says Max Barclay, curator of beetles at the Natural History Museum.

These insects regularly arrive in the U.K. along with loads of fruits and vegetables, but this is the first time they've decided to stay and breed, because it's always been too cold for them before. Besides the U.S., it was once found only in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Australia and Africa.

"When somebody first brought a specimen to me I didn't believe it," Barclay says. "I thought somebody had picked it up on their holidays, but it really was eating their tomatoes in London?World experts on this group said in 1959 that it can't establish in the British Isles. They said it is a regular import?it is always coming in?but it can't live here. And for 40 years there was no record of it, so they seemed to be correct. But obviously something has changed now.

"I have been looking at a lot of new species that have come in over the years?but this is the only one that tells a clear story about global warming. In all the other cases people say, 'Is this to do with global warming?' And we have to say we are not sure. But in this case, we are sure."

Do bugs eat cropcircles? They'd better watch out for that stink bug!

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