Now brought? Migrants of animals spread in the south

Snakes, venomous spiders, allergens and tropical mosquitoes are slowly spreading in Baden-Württemberg. How threatening these species are to humans and the local ecosystem, and where do migrants originate in the area.

Walking on the edge of a forest, gardening, or in a flower box: people keep coming across supposedly exotic animals. For example, California chain snakes were recently discovered in Glottertal in the Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald region and near Offenburg. This has been reported by the Amphibian and Reptile Biology Protection of Baden-Württemberg (ASB). The snake attracts attention with its black and white or beige and white pattern.

The explorers could not catch the snakes

It belongs to the so-called invasive species. These are non-native animals that can disrupt the habitat of other species. These species are mostly introduced through trade or tourism. The chained python actually lives in the United States and northwestern Mexico.

Hubert Laufer of the ASB suspects that the two specimens in Baden-Württemberg were most likely released by snake keepers or managed to escape. “Since it is on the Federation’s list, it must be combated.” The EU list includes all kinds of new animals and plants that have settled in foreign regions and spread and cause harm there. The list is the basis for concrete control measures such as hunting or prohibition of possession and marketing.

This specimen of the Glottertal Californian viper chain was found in the Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald region in southwest Baden-Württemberg. (Photo: Marcus Schwartz)

Lack of rain, heat and drought create favorable climatic conditions for the settlement of some exotic plants and animals. Because of climate change and the global exchange of goods, the flow of non-native animals and plants to Baden-Württemberg has increased in recent decades, explains a spokeswoman for the Baden-Württemberg State Institute for the Environment.

The introduced chain snakes can threaten native species in the southwest

The introduced chain snake could threaten native species in the southwest

The hyaloma tick transmits infectious diseases

It is possible that the Hyalomma tick has been able to spread due to the weather of the past few months. This has been proven by observations made by the University of Hohenheim. There is no cause for concern, because so far only a few Hyalomma ticks that were brought to Germany with migratory birds have been found. According to the state Department of Health, the Hyalomma tick is a carrier of bacterial infectious diseases.

Many animal and plant species introduced so far have been incorporated into the original habitat without any identifiable problems. However, in the case of some new species, the spread is not without consequences. In Gran Canaria, for example, the chain snake has become so well established that it crowds out local lizards.

The Asian tiger mosquito appears on Lake Constance and is being combated

The Asian tiger mosquito also loves it warm. It can spread serious diseases such as dengue fever or the Zika virus. Insect eggs have recently been found in Constance, along the Rhine plain, in and around Greater Stuttgart, and in the area around Heilbronn. According to the state Department of Health, the animals are particularly aggressive. In Constance, insects around the site where they were found are fought with a special protein. Mosquitoes prefer areas in the southwest, where it gets hotter in summer. “The risk of transmission of exotic viruses from the Asian tiger mosquito to humans is currently very low,” the Ministry of Health says. Compared to the original mosquito, the animal is smaller and black with white stripes. The tiger mosquito has been repeatedly detected in Bavaria since 2015.

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The Baden-Württemberg State Institute for the Environment lists 88 invasive species. At least 46 of them live in the wild in Germany. These include already established species – such as raccoon dog, American frog, muskrat, raccoon or Siberian squirrel. They originally migrated from East Asia and North America. They can spread due to the lack of natural enemies or because they benefit from a warm climate.

The spider hunting novel loves the dry and hot climate

A new animal appeared in the news from the Southwest a few weeks ago: the Nosferatu spider. The spider, which is native to Europe, has been seen in the Tuttlingen region, Speichingen in Pforzheim and the Karlsruhe region, says Hubert Hofer of the Natural History Museum in Karlsruhe. It is assumed that the species will appear more frequently this summer than in previous years, because the population has become aware of many of the discoveries in press reports. “Hot, dry weather can also contribute to increased activity, not volume,” Hoover says.

The 35-year-old discovers a venomous Nosferatu spider in his kitchen

The 35-year-old discovers a venomous Nosferatu spider in his kitchen

Although spiders are poisonous, they are harmless to humans. They bite when they feel threatened, according to a spokesperson for the Natural History Museum in Karlsruhe. This is not completely harmful, it may cause skin redness or swelling.

The pain is less than a wasp sting. The spider species was first discovered in the southwest in 2005. “The species has managed to establish itself along the Rhine and its tributaries due to the favorable climatic conditions here,” says the Natural History Museum in Karlsruhe.

Invasive plants cause allergic reactions

What doesn’t seem as scary as the Nosferatu spider at first glance, but can be more dangerous, is the ragweed plant. According to the AOK Scientific Institute, this is a highly allergenic plant that is widespread in Europe. The institute reports that pollen in the plant causes allergies, conjunctivitis, hay fever, and asthma.

The ragweed plant, originally from North America, is increasingly thriving in northern Europe as a result of global warming – including southern Germany. The Bavarian Central Franconian region is particularly affected. The plant usually grows on the side of the road or in wastelands, construction sites, or fields.

The delicacy is spreading more and more in Bavaria.  There may already be samples in the Allgäu.
The delicacy is spreading more and more in Bavaria. There may already be samples in the Allgäu. (Photo: Patrick Bloll)

Whether it is poisonous or not, whether it is a snake or a plant: Invasive species can also cause significant economic damage. The Southwest Department of Environment mainly appeals to owners of foreign animals not to release them illegally into nature, but to keep the animals until the end of their lives or alternatively contact a reptile sanctuary.

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