In recent years, the uncontrolled spread of the Cochineal, Dactylopius coccus (Cochinilla del Carmin) has led to the near disappearance of the prickly pear (higo chumbo) in Spain. It does beg the question, how long does a species need to be in a place before it actually becomes native rather than introduced and invasive? (the mongoose is another example)
How interesting! I always suspected that the ones along the roadsides where I live were being “treated” with something. I guess its been successful then? (until they are all gone and the bug switches to the cactus species in our gardens! EEEkkkk!
Yes, Linda, quite right…. But, as Clive mentions in his article that he links to above… How long does it take for an introduced species not to be introduced? The opuntias were brought to Europe in the 16th century! And the mongoose introduced to Spain even earlier but its still introduced but not on the invasive list like the prickly pear is…..
Its a fascinating subject!… Surely humans have been moving things around the planet for many thousands of years and in the case of the prickly pear its has provided income, food and even a somewhat sustainable resource for generations…. I know a family nearby who have lost their entire income as all the chumbos have gone since they were “controlled” by who know which government department here in Spain 🙂
In the high street of Ronda there used to be three or four people selling peeled and cleaned higo chumbos…. Gone now…
I also read recently about the small dams and weirs that have been in place for many years being destroyed and removed to let the river flow properly…. But, they have been there now for such a long time that even local wildlife that has adapted to the pools created by the “dams” is now affected negatively by their removal…..
And what about the poor higo chumbo spider!!!! hehehehehe
I have a sneaking suspicion that it was manufactured and released by spraying roadside and easily accesible opuntia…. I am sure I remember someone talking about it years ago here in Grazalema but I can’t find any information at all on any government or natural park website about it…..