Check your trees regularly for these insects & diseases, look for the damage they can cause & help stop the killing of all these trees.
Male (Left) and Female (Right)
The Asian long horned beetle, or ALB is an invasive insect that feeds on a wide variety of tree in the United States, eventually killing them. The beetle is native to China & is in the wood-boring beetle family & was discovered in Ohio in 2011. The adult beetles are large, distinctive-looking insects measuring 1 to 1.5 inches. In length with long antennae. Their bodies are black with small white spots, & their antennae are banded in black & white.
Adult females chew depressions into the bark of various hardwood tree species. They lay an eggs about the size of a grain of rice, under the bark. Females can lay up to 90 eggs in their lifetime. The eggs hatch within in 2 weeks, the white larva bore into the tree feeding on the living tissue that carries nutrients & the layer responsible for new growth under the bark. After several weeks, the larva tunnels into the woody tree tissue, where it continues to feed and develop over the winter. As the larvae feed, they form tunnels in the tree trunks & branches. Sawdust like material, called frass, it's from the insect's burrowing, it can be found at the trunk & branch bases of infested trees.
Over the course of a year, beetle larvae develop into adults. The pupal stage lasts 13 to 24 days. After adult beetles emerge from the pupae, they chew their way out of the tree. , leaving round exit holes approximately three-eighths of an inch in diameter. Once they have exited a tree, they feed on the trees leaves & bark for 10 to 14 days before mating & laying eggs.
Size comparison for Emerald Ash Borer
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive species, and exotic beetle that’s native to northeastern Asia. Discovered in North America, around southeast Michigan in 2002, It’s believed to have gotten into the US through wood packing material. This beetle primarily attacks ash species such as green, black, white, and blue ash trees. The larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees. Making the tree unable to transport water and nutrients, ultimately killing the tree. The loss of ash trees can increase numbers of invasive plants, changes in soil nutrients, and negatively affect animals that feed on ash trees. As of October 2018, the Emerald Ash Borer has been found in 35 states in North America, and has destroyed 40 million ash trees in Michigan alone.
Adult borers are metallic green, and about ½ inch long. The larvae are a creamy white color and have flattened segmented bodies. Adults appear in spring around mid May to late July and feed on ash leaflets. Female’s lay 60-90 eggs in the bark crevices of the tree. Within 1 week small white larvae hatch and tunnel into the inner bark layer, once in the tree the larvae feed and grow. Creating S shaped tunnels, known as feeding galleries. In the fall the larvae enter a prepupae stage, where they go to the sapwood or outer bark and fold into a J shape. In spring the pupae/adults have to chew through the bark to escape, creating a D-shaped hole. Trees attacked by these beetle’s typically die within 1-3 years.
Signs and symptoms of Emerald Ash Borer could be dying branches in the top of the tree. The canopy of a heavily infested tree will begin to die, starting at the top moving down the tree. If more than 50% of canopy is gone due to borers, treatment is unlikely to save the tree. It’s hard to detect Emerald Ash Borer in newly infested trees. Woodpeckers enjoy eating the larvae, so heavy woodpecker damage on ash trees can be a sign of Emerald Ash Borers. The bark may also split vertically above feeding galleries. You can confirm if you have an infestation by looking under the bark and finding the feeding galleries made by larvae. Also watching for the D-shaped holes in the bark.
There are four different types of treatments for Emerald Ash Borer infestations. The options include soil injection, trunk injection, bark spray, and canopy spray. Soil and trunk injections are the most commonly used to treat EAB because they both go straight to the tree's tissue. After the treatment is injected it’s evenly spread out through the canopy of the tree. Injections target the larvae tunneling in the bark, which stop the harmful part of the process. Sprays are occasionally used to prevent adult borers from continuing to grow and multiply. Treatments need to be handled professionally to make sure you get the right dosage, and timing. When applied correctly EAB treatment can be 85-95% effective. Treatment should be applied every 1-2 years to effectively protect the tree. Any homeowner can go and buy a treatment with the same active ingredients professionals get, but it’s about knowing how to properly use the treatment that makes it effective.
Despite the name, bagworms are actually moths. But like all moths they need to go through metamorphosis. In the late summer and fall, a female moth can lay up to 1,000 eggs in her bag. The female moth then mummifies, and lets her eggs sit through winter. In the late spring the eggs begin to hatch and become larvae, they immediately start eating and making their own bags. The larvae make the bags out of silk, soil, sand, and other environmental materials. Larvae stay in their bags only sticking their head out to feed and carry the bag. In late summer the larvae begin to pupate. The pupal attach their bags to tree branches, rocks, sometimes even fences. The bag is then sealed shut and rests for 4 weeks while they mature. In September male adults emerge from their bag and fly to find mates. Adult moths don’t feed, they only live long enough to mate. Adult females have no legs, wings, or mouthparts and remain in their bag. Adult males have clear wings, have densely hairy bodies, and are a sooty black color. The way they spread is through ballooning, the bagworms spin a fine web and use the wind to carry them to surrounding trees and bushes. They’re mostly a threat to urban environments, because the host plants are commonly planted together.
When the larvae feed on the tree leaves and form their bags it actually damages the tree. Trees infested with bagworms experience damaged leaves or plant needles, depending on the tree. They can also be found on the tree trunk, and limbs. As the infestation grows the tree can get stripped of all its leaves, and eventually die. Mature larvae typically attach their bag to the branch with extra silk, which does not decay quickly, this silk can actually girdle the branch as it grows causing it to die years later. Bagworms like a variety of trees, these include arborvitae, pine, spruce, cypress, juniper, willow, black locust, sycamore, apple, maple, elm, cedar, oak, and birch. Since the bags are typically made from materials in their habitat they are naturally camouflaged, making them harder to find. Completed bags can be 1 ½-2 ½ in long, it varies depending on the species.
You can find out if you have a bagworm infestation by looking for the egg sacs or bags hanging on branches. The best time to check if you have bagworms is late fall or early winter before the larvae hatch. It’s hard to catch in the early stages of the life cycle since the bags are so small. People usually don’t notice damage until the infestation is large and most of the tree is dead. Treatment caught early can be pretty simple actually. If the sacs are easily reachable in a small quantity you can pick them off the plant and squish them. Just be sure to cut the silk attachment so the branches don't get girdled. You can also use a bacterial spray called Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) it’s effective when used on young larvae. It should be applied at the end of June after all the eggs have hatched. BT is harmless to people and animals, but deadly to caterpillars who eat it. Another option is Stomach insecticides, which is a chemical control spray. When spraying make sure the leaves are fully saturated because the larvae are protected in their bags. Since timing can be so important with bagworms we recommend calling in the experts to do sprays.
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid life cycle
The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a small pest that feeds off the sap and nutrients of hemlock and spruce trees. They are closely related to the aphids, which typically infest trees that have needle-like or scale-like leaves, they also produce galls and wooly masses. Native to eastern Asia, It’s reported to have been found in the United states in 1951 close to Richmond, Virginia. The pest slowly spread until the 1980’s when it reached natural forests, there it began spreading rapidly. In February 2012, the pest was found in Meigs county Ohio, since then HWA has been found in surrounding eastern Ohio counties. In its native home the pest doesn’t cause serious amounts of damage because of natural predators, parasitoids, and host resistance. In eastern North America it is a major pest among the Eastern Hemlocks and Carolina Hemlocks, sadly neither of the trees naturally resist the pest.
The most obvious sign you might have an infestation is the cotton like masses that form on the underside of branches, at the base of the needles. It is best seen in the spring and fall time because that’s when the pest is most actively feeding. Harm to the tree is caused when the adelgid feeds, by injecting it’s needle-like mouth into the base of the hemlock needle and feeding on the sap. Dried out needles become a greyish green color and fall out of the tree, typically there is no new growth. However that’s not what kills the tree, it’s the chemical in the saliva from the pest that causes the death of the tree. A healthy tree might be able to stand an infestation for 5-10 years before being seriously damaged. A not so healthy tree might only be able to stand an infestation for 3 years.
Hemlocks are asexual, so they do not need a partner to reproduce. They also only reproduce females. In its native habitat, a winged generation is born, but this generation's reproduction requires a species of spruce not found in the Eastern United States. From mid July to mid October the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid are nymphs, which means they look just like the adults but much smaller. They are flat, black, oval shaped, and ringed with white waxy strands. Nymphs can be found on the stem of the host or base of the needle. They also do not feed or develop at this time. In mid October they resume feeding by sucking sap from the host, using their piercing mouthparts. During the feeding process they begin to grow into adults. A female can lay around 100-300 eggs in the woolly egg sacs beneath the branches. A new generation would start around march, and there are two generations per year. This is the most noticeable stage because this is when the small white cotton masses begin to appear.
Treatments must be handled quickly and thoroughly. A natural method to get rid of HWA is horticultural oil. The oil can be applied as a dormant oil spray and/or summer spray. Horticultural oil will suffocate the pests and is effective against all stages in the life cycle, including eggs You have to spray the needles of the host, for the spray to work you must apply thoroughly throughout the entire plant and reapply yearly. You only want to use this method if the infestation is addressed early and in a landscaped or nursery area.. It's best to apply in both early spring and late fall. For seriously infested trees use a soil injection treatment paired with a foliar application. If the toxin from their saliva is in the host, it may take a year or more until the toxicity in the tree is reduced. Once the treatment is over the pests will die and over time the cotton like masses will begin to fall off. Trees infested with HWA should be getting treated once or twice a year, and regular pruning to prevent another infestation from happening.
Carolina Mantis Ootheca
The Carolina mantis does a lot for gardeners by naturally eating pests in gardens. But there are two different types of mantis that are a threat to plants and animals, the Chinese & European mantis. The Carolina mantis is much smaller ranging between 2 and 3½ inches long, with the head and thorax together being almost half the body. The wings are relatively short, and it’s color ranges form a streaky grey-brown to yellow-green. The Chinese mantis is native to Asia, and was accidentally spread to the United States in 1896 in Mt. Airy, Pennsylvania. It’s also the largest mantis species in North America, and can get as long as five inches. It can be identified with the light colored lines in between their eyes. The European mantis was introduced as pest control for the gypsy moth. It’s about an inch shorter than the Chinese mantis, making it about 4 inches in length. They are usually greener in color, and have a black and white “bullseye” under the foreleg that can be helpful when identifying. You can also find yellow dots on the forearm and lower section of the front legs. It’s hard to tell each species apart, especially when grown because of similar colors and markings. The Chinese & European mantis may consume pests, but they also enjoy small birds, butterflies, honey bees, and even the Carolina mantis. Since they consume bees they are a threat to our pollinators and overall plant health.
In around mid summer to late fall females will begin to lay eggs. She covers the eggs with a foamy substance, which then hardens and feels similar to Styrofoam, now it’s called an ootheca. Since it’s difficult to tell which mantis is what when grown, you can actually judge by the ootheca. Depending on the species there could be hundreds of eggs in the ootheca, but only a small amount will actually live to see adulthood. In November to early May you might be able to find an ootheca on twigs, stems, and fence posts, or even on your fresh Christmas tree. The ootheca of the Carolina mantis is elongated, and slender with a tear drop like shape. It also has a flat, smooth texture, with dark and light brown stripes. The Chinese mantis ootheca is a rounded to cube shape with a solid color of straw brown. It’s also smaller than a ping pong ball. The European mantis ootheca is a solid pale brown, they are also elongated like the Carolina mantis. Although the European mantis ootheca isn’t flattened or smooth in texture.
If you find an ootheca of invasive mantids here are some things you can do with it. First you could just step on them, or just put them in the freezer for a week. Another solution could be to cut open and submerge the ootheca. To get rid of the ootheca and it’s problems you could give it to a friend or neighbor with chickens, tarantulas, snakes, lizards, or fish for a tasty treat. Just make sure you don’t just throw it outdoors and try to relocate the ootheca. This just keeps the problem continuing on, it’s best for the environment to stop at the source. If you can’t personally kill the eggs pass them along so someone or something that can.
A spotted Lanternfly, surprisingly enough, is not an actual fly. Instead, it is a type of planthopper from the Fulgoridae Family of insects. They have four wings and a piercing-sucking mouthpart that is used to pierce their food source and suck out any nutritive fluids from that source. In many cases, they feed from the phloem tissue of host plants. An adult spotted lanternfly measures approximately 1 inch long and a 1/2 inch wide at a resting state, and 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide when it's wings are spread. The front wings are a translucent gray with black spot that transition into a black tile like pattern at the tips. The back wings are red with bits of black and white. When resting, the front wings lay like a tent over its body, causing the red coloration from the back wings to appear pinkish with black spots.
The Life Cycle of a Spotted Lanternfly is based on research conducted in Pennsylvania. They typically have a one year lifecycle. During which, adults lay eggs in in the late fall, all the way through until the first freeze. They lay their eggs in clusters of 30-50 eggs arranged in 4-7 columns aligned on host plants or any flat surface. These columns measure approximately 1 inch in length and are covered (by the female spotted lanternfly) in a mud like substance. This protective coating starts out as a light gray but does begin to darken and crack with age. Typically, the first hatch will begin in late April to early May in Pennsylvania. Emergence may vary from State to State and even by location (as contributed by Marie Smith in 2020). There is still ongoing data collection to determine the number of growing degree days ("GDD") for eggs to hatch. This might vary in different states and regions as the Spotted Lanternfly continues to spread. Adults typically emerge beginning in mid-July. As winged adults, they are relatively weak flyers. However, they can and do fly as well as jump.
What are the Signs & Symptoms (and yes, even damage) of The Spotted Lanternfly?
The Spotted Lanternfly has a strong love for Tree of Heaven and grapevines. However, that is not the only two places to look, when seeking these out! Look for egg masses on just about ANY hard surfaces. Such as, but not limited to: trees, branches, rocks, lawn furniture, cars, houses, toys, tires and more!!
So, how do we prevent the spread?
ANY suspected activity of the Spotted Lanternfly should be immediately reported to The Ohio Department of Agriculture for confirmation. You must also be aware of egg masses. Spotted Lanternflies lay eggs on a main host, such as: Tree of Heaven, grapevine, rocks, cars, campers, yard furniture and decor, as well as, vertical surfaces including, but not limited to: metal, train tracks, sign posts and more! When traveling into infested areas, always check your vehicle and objects carefully before leaving a quarantined zone.
As winter approaches, we point our attention to those insects that not only survive but thrive in the winter. In this case, there are three mantises that survive the winter's chill, as eggs tuck cozily into egg cases, also known as oothecae.
In the autumn/fall time, a female mantis will deposit one or more oothecae on any and all upright vegetation. This can be a branch of a tree or a stem of a plant (typically meadow plants). Tucked inside each egg is a brown styrofoam-like egg case is more than 100 brothers and sisters. There, they will just chill out for the winter. When warmer weather starts again, tiny mantises hatch and emerge from the egg case in search of prey.
European and Chinese mantises are well known predators and also kin to other mantises, such as, native Carolina mantis.
If the unwitting female mantis just so happens to deposit her oothecae on the bough of a Christmas tree, it shouldn't shock you that by New Year's, you will see hundreds of tiny mantises decorating your Christmas tree. While harmless, their wanton acts of cannibalism will more than likely violate the joyful spirit of the holiday season. So, if your holiday tradition is to bring home a live evergreen tree to decorate, take a quick moment to inspect your tree prior to bringing indoors.
Should you see them, simply pluck them off carefully and put them outdoors so they can deliver a surprise for unsuspecting prey next spring!
Insects can use a variety of strategies to survive Old Man Winter. In this article, we will speak of the European Hornets. In many cases, you can find them lazy and sleepy nestled within your firewood or even trees and bushes. Tight, warm spaces are their preferred place to nap for the winter.
During late August and early September, these insects begin to search for a safe place to stay during the winter months. You may see their nests and you may find they have strayed from their nests and hunker down in your firewood, trees and bushes.
Males and Females reproduce and some stay inside of their nests for the winter and others may seemingly abandon their nests for the winter. However, please always be aware that sometimes, abandoned nests may not be used for years. Please be kind and either carefully relocate the nest while wearing new, unscented gloves OR leave the nest alone and allow them to come and go at their leisure.
While scary looking, these hornets are not aggressive and more than likely will not sting, unless provoked. They favor fallen pears. It is a good source of carbohydrates for the hornets.
Always check your firewood and trees/bushes for them!