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Uninvited guests: Belgium’s battle against nature’s invaders

Belgium is grappling with a number of natural invaders, from the microscopic to the furry. Many of them offer significant potential to damage local wildlife and/or agriculture. Hence the need for continued vigilance, innovative strategies, and community involvement. But it’s far from an easy task.

Tiny terminators: The unexpected arrival of termites

In a surprising turn of events, Belgium has become home to three new species of termites. These miniature invaders, typically associated with warmer climates, have found their way into Belgian homes, likely hitchhiking on imported wood products. While two species may struggle in Belgium’s cooler climate, the third – Reticulitermes flavipes – is more cold-hardy and poses a greater threat of spreading.

Uninvited guests: termites
Termites. Photo by Jimmy Chan

Scientists are now on high alert. They are busy monitoring various locations in Belgium to prevent these wood-munching insects from spreading and causing significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. The discovery serves as a reminder of the unexpected consequences of our globalized world, where even the tiniest creatures can become unwelcome travelers.

The buzz about Asian hornets

I have written more comprehensively elsewhere about the rise of the Asian hornet – and this oriental insect is not going away. As summer threatens to get serious, Wallonia is gearing up for another round in its ongoing battle against these striped invaders. They pose a significant threat to local bee populations and, by extension, to the region’s agriculture and biodiversity. But Wallonia isn’t backing down.

Uninvited guests: Asian hornets
How to identify an Asian hornet

Building on the successes of 2023, which saw the neutralization of 200 nests in just one month, the region is doubling down on its efforts. With a combination of queen trapping, beehive protection, and nest neutralization, Wallonia is hoping that with determination and strategic planning, even the most formidable invaders can be kept at bay. However, attempts to eradicate the Asian hornet in Flanders are proving much more difficult than first envisaged.

Raccoon ruckus: The furry challenge

Don’t let their cute faces fool you – raccoons are causing quite a stir in Belgium – particularly in Wallonia. Since their introduction in the 1980s, these clever critters have been on a population boom, outwitting local control efforts and causing headaches for residents and wildlife alike.

Uninvited guests: raccoons
Raccoon. Image by Jack Bulmer

With an estimated population of over 70,000 and growing, raccoons are testing Wallonia’s ability to manage invasive species. As authorities contemplate more comprehensive control plans, residents are being encouraged to take simple but effective steps to discourage these masked marauders, from securing trash bins to protecting chicken coops.

Drop me a comment below or an email if you have come across any of these three uninvited guests in your garden or local park.

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