When an unknown insect starts showing up in ever-growing numbers in London, England, the most logical step would be to take one to some experts so they can identify it. What do you do when the insects first appear in the experts' own back yard, the Wildlife Garden outside the Natural History Museum? Even after checking it against the museum's collection of 28 million bug specimens, no one is sure what species this is. How could an entire species go undetected in an urban area until now? Or, stranger still, what could cause a totally new species to appear and flourish like this?
The bugs are tiny, roughly rice-sized, and they feed on the seeds of plane trees. They probably don't pose a serious threat, although invasive species are never good news, if that's what they turn out to be. Their numbers are increasing steadily, and they've already been found beyond the museum's grounds. Entymologists thought they had a match with Arocatus roeselii, a central European insect that lives near alder trees, but Arocatus roeselii has a reddish coloration.
Experts with the museum think the bugs might be Arocatus roeselii that moved in and flourished without their natural predators, but they've left open the possibility that these bugs are an entirely new, undiscovered species of insect. Why they suddenly appeared in the middle of a major city is unknown. If anyone can come up with a good explanation, it's the io9 readers. Can you come up with some totally implausible (or totally plausible, for you hard SF sticklers) reasons for the presence of these alien bugs? Image by: BBC News.
Mysterious insect baffles experts. [BBC News]