Join the War On Invasive Insects!

Is it just me or does everything always seem to be about native and invasive plants? I've written several blogs on them myself. I mean plants are just freaking awesome and why wouldn't we want to read all kinds of stuff about them?! However, if you're gonna have plants, you're gonna have to know about the insects that affect them. We read stuff all the time about the awesome pollinators and other beneficial insects for our plants, but what you don't see as much information about is invasive insects. They are just as important because, like invasive plants, they have negative environmental, ecological, and economical impacts. Plus, just like some herbicides, the pesticides used to manage them can have lasting impacts on these items as well.

I just watched a wonderful presentation called The Unwanted and Unloved Invasive Insects That Should Be On Your Radar by Amy Stone which talked about the top 5 invasive insect species in Ohio. Amy is the Ag and Natural Resources Educator as OSU Extension in Lucas County. Based on her webinar, here are the Top 5 Invasive Insects to be on the lookout for:

  • Lymantria dispar formerly known as Gypsy Moth (currently there is no common name). These white (female) or brown (male) moths can defoliate entire trees as caterpillars! The caterpillars are brownish gray and hairy with red and blue/black dots. Current treatments include monitoring, traps, biological controls (fungus, virus, birds, mice), pesticides (insecticide, mating disrupter), and quarantine.
  • Aselgestsugae, Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is a tiny little insect black insect is most noticeable by its cotton ball like egg sacks found on the underside of hemlock twigs and needles. They disrupt the host tree's canopy by disrupting the follow of nutrients and eventually killing the tree. Current treatments include scouting, biological controls (other insects), chemical treatments, and quarantine.
  • Lycorma delicatula, Spotted Lanternfly. This newest invasive is not actually a fly or a moth even though it looks like one. It is actually a type of leafhopper and use their mouth parts to pierce branches of trees which is what causes the damage. They particularly enjoy Tree of Heaven (also an invasive) and grapevines (both wild and in vineyards). They are a very showy, beautiful insect and easy to identify with their bold red, black, and white spotted bodies. They will lay their eggs on any surface and they particularly like to hitchhike on vehicles and trains, which is how they got to Mid-Town Cleveland where they were recently spotted along the railroad by E.55th and Woodland. Current treatments include scouting for individuals and host plants, only the ODA and USDA are authorized to use pesticides, and quarantine. If you suspect you have found one or an egg mass please report it to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, even negative reports help.
  • Anoplophora glabripennis, Asian Longhorned Beetle is a showy black beetle with white spots and long spotted antennae that are as long or much longer than their body. In addition to leaving dime-sized burrow holes in trees they also leave scars from egg laying (oviposition scars). This makes the tree limbs weak which not only damages the tree, but also poses safety risks to people and property. They have a wide range of host plants, but their favorites are maples, buckeyes/horse chestnuts, elms, and willows. Management includes scouting and only using local firewood and not transporting firewood, and quarantine. If you see signs of these beetles please report it immediately to the USDA at 1-866-702-9938 or online. Currently not found in Cuyahoga County, let's keep it that way.
  • Pyrrhalta viburni, Viburnum Leaf Beetle is a small yellow-brown beetle with an insatiable appetite that will completely eradicate the foliage of its host plant. Favorite host plants include American cranberry viburnum and European Viburnum. Current management includes scouting, choosing less susceptible viburnum species for landscaping and pruning/removing branches with eggs and destroying them, and insecticides (can impact pollinators and other beneficial insects.

One last important invasive species example that impacts Ohio. As one of the largest producers of oranges in the country, Florida supplies us with most of our oranges. According to an article in USA Today, citrus growers down there are fighting a vicious battle with the invasive Asian citrus psyllid which is destroying orange and grapefruit crops and severely hurting the farmers and suppliers financially. While this insect isn't an issue in Ohio, it does affect us indirectly with its impact on the availability, quality, and cost of our citrus products. Unfortunately, it seems that the most powerful weapon against them is a pesticide called aldicarb which has been banned in several countries and was being phased out by the US EPA due to its very harmful and lasting impacts on the environment. One granule is lethal to birds and mammals and degraded traces of it were found in monitoring wells in Long Island 40 years after its last use in that area!!! The EPA under the Trump administration approved it for use on citrus again, however, the EPA now under the Biden administration is pushing back to have it banned once again.

Various helpful wallet identification cards and other marketing are out there and available for invasive insects and plant diseases. One source is the Massachusetts Introduced Pest Resource Project.

As always, don't forget that every little thing we do affects the big picture. For example, don't transport firewood from a quarantined area to another location and check your vehicles before leaving a quarantined area.

Blog Author: Kelly Parker, Stormwater Specialist II


Buckeye Yard & Garden onLine

EPA phased out a toxic pesticide in 2010. Before Trump left office, it was approved for Florida Citrus

Gypsy Moth Guide

Massachusetts ALB Media

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Ohio Department of Agriculture

University of California: Pest News

USDA: Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service

Wildlife Insight: The Gypsy Moth and Caterpillar, Lymantria dispar

Wisconsin Horticulture, Division of Extension

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