Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia

Natural History Museum of Venice Giancarlo Ligabue


Alien coleoptera in Italy

The problem of the spread of plant and animal organisms outside of their natural environment has become increasingly important in recent decades for the impact of alien species (also known as non-native, or exotic) on ecosystems, with serious repercussions on local economy and biodiversity.

A large part of aliens species introduced in Italy consists of insects, especially coleopters. Many of these are harmful, or potentially harmful, for agriculture, tree crops, stored food products, furniture, fabrics, etc..

The introduction of these species is carried out by land, by sea, by airplane, along with a wide range of products: cereals, spices, fresh and preserved fruits, tree trunks and wood working, leather, carpets, etc. .. Among the most recent carriers that have introduced alien species in Italy, there are souvenirs such as wooden masks and objects in bamboo, but also ornamental plants, including bonsai.

During more than 40 years of research conducted by the Natural History Museum of Venice Giancarlo Ligabue in harbor and urban environments, warehouses, mills, and other various habitats, not only in the City of Venice and in the Veneto Region, a great mass of data has been collected on the introduction in Italy of non-native species of coleoptera. The counting of more than 1500 scientific papers have integrated other researches in the field, allowing us to compile a systematic list of aliens coleoptera introduced in Italy, currently counting more than 360 different species.

The introduction of alien species in our country in some cases dates back to prehistoric and protohistoric period, or to the Roman period, in other cases it has occurred in modern times, to the 19th or 20th century, and is still continuing nowadays.

Luckily, only a limited percentage of alien species introduced in Italy succed in acclimatization. In fact, many species, especially if coming from tropical regions, are not able to adapt themselves to the new environment. Also, for another group of species there is no assurance that they are really alien and not native.

Over the last 20 years (1986-2006) at least 27 alien species of coleopters have acclimatized in Italy and several other, recently introduced, is expected to be confirmed.

Find out the list of species: