Students create tool to stop pests in their tracks

Every day, invasive species threaten the health of vital agricultural and natural lands, from plants like the fast-growing kudzu vine to animals like the pernicious red scale insect that chomps through citrus crops. The US Department of Agriculture estimates invasives to be a $120 billion problem annually.

Now there is a new tool to help in the fight against these non-native pests, developed by three college students during their summer research program at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS).

“Prevention is the most cost-effective method for controlling the spread of invasives, but it can be difficult without the proper knowledge. With ComFlo, we aim to provide the information to identify significant pathways of invasion so that managers know which sites to focus their resources on,” said co-developer Ryan Yan, a student majoring in mathematical biology at the College of William and Mary.

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