Woody ornamental insect and non-insect arthropod pests to consider, a selected few:
- Emerald Ash Borer: (Agrilus planipennis, EAB) The Massachusetts DCR Forest Health Program has reported finding infestations in 12 new communities in 2019 of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the towns of Alford, Stockbridge, Hampden, Southwick, East Longmeadow, Monson, Wales, Brimfield, Spencer, Ayer, Groton, and Townsend. For a state map showing current detections as well as New England-wide quarantine areas, go to https://www.mass.gov/guides/emerald-ash-borer-in-massachusetts. For more detailed info on the Emerald Ash Borer, including life cycle, images of damage, and management strategies, go to UMass Extension's fact sheet at https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/emerald-ash-borer. To report a suspected find of this invasive insect, go to https://massnrc.org/pests/eabreport.htm.
This wood-boring beetle readily attacks ash (Fraxinus spp.) including white, green, and black ash and has also been found developing in white fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) and most recently, has been reported in cultivated olive (Olea europaea). Adult insects of this species will not be present at this time of year. Signs of an EAB infested tree may include (at this time) D-shaped exit holes in the bark (from adult emergence in previous years), “blonding” or lighter coloration of the ash bark from woodpecker feeding (chipping away of the bark as they search for larvae beneath), and serpentine galleries visible through splits in the bark, from larval feeding beneath. Positive identification of an EAB-infested tree may not be possible with these signs individually on their own.
- Winter Moth: (Operophtera brumata) The eggs of this insect, if they can be found, were laid by the females who emerged in November of 2018 and were active through the winter months (mainly November through December when temperatures are above freezing). Eggs are currently present in the landscape and hidden in cracks and crevices of bark or beneath lichen on host plants such as oak, maple, apple, blueberry, crabapple, etc. Eggs are tiny and green when first laid, but quickly turn a red-orange color soon after. At this time, anyone monitoring winter moth eggs will most likely see that they are orange in color. As the egg develops, it will turn a bright blue color, shortly prior to egg hatch. For more information about the life cycle and management of winter moth, please visit thisfact sheet: Winter Moth Identification and Management https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/winter-moth-identification-management
Winter moth is a non-native insect that was identified in Massachusetts for the first time in 2003 following persistent reports of defoliation in eastern areas of the state such as Cape Anne and on the North Shore near Cohasset, Hingham, and Rockland on the South Shore in the late 1990’s. For more detailed information about the history of this insect pest in North America and Massachusetts, please visit this fact sheet: Winter Moth in Massachusetts: History and Biological Control https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/winter-moth-in-massachusetts-history-biological-control
- Gypsy Moth:(Lymantria dispar) [ See also the link on current conditions in the Pioneer Valley Regional report, this issue.] Egg masses laid by female moths in 2018 can be seen at this time. This is the stage of the insect that overwinters. Egg masses are “fuzzy” or hairy and brownish-tan in color. Each egg mass can hold up to 500-1000 eggs. These masses may be found on host plant trunks and branches such as oak (favored), maple, birch, poplar, and many others, but are also laid on inanimate objects including the surfaces of homes, outdoor furniture, camping equipment, firewood piles, etc. This may make the accidental movement of gypsy moth egg masses possible.
Egg hatch for this insect is also not yet upon us, and occurs after winter moth egg hatch. Gypsy moth egg hatch typically occurs between 90 -100 growing degree days, using a base of 50°F and average temperatures. This is usually around the first week in May in Massachusetts, but variations in temperature may lead to early egg hatch in the last week in April. This can also coincide with serviceberry (Amelanchier) bloom. After egg hatch occurs, groups of tiny gypsy moth caterpillars may remain on their egg mass just before crawling to the canopy of their host plant, where they can disperse using a technique known as “ballooning”. Ballooning occurs when very young caterpillars spin a silken thread and catch the wind to blow onto a new host plant once the thread breaks. This method of dispersal can lead to host plants becoming defoliated that previously did not have egg masses directly on them, however egg masses may be present on nearby oaks, for example, and provide a local population of caterpillars.
Now (until before the last week in April) is a great time to scout the landscape and count the number of gypsy moth egg masses present not only on valuable landscape specimens that are hosts for this insect, but on nearby forested hosts such as oak which might provide sources of ballooning caterpillars. Egg mass counts can help us make decisions regarding whether or not to manage for this insect. Some individuals also use this opportunity to scrape egg masses into a container of soapy water, although this is time consuming and some egg masses will be missed.
- Asian Longhorned Beetle: (Anoplophora glabripennis, ALB) Look for signs of an ALB infestation which include perfectly round exit holes (about the size of a dime), shallow oval or round scars in the bark where a female has chewed an egg site, or sawdust-like frass (excrement) on the ground nearby host trees or caught in between branches. These particular signs of damage from the beetle may be more visible at this time of year, when host trees such as maples are leafless. Be advised that other, native insects may create perfectly round exit holes or sawdust-like frass which can be confused with signs of ALB activity.
The regulated area for Asian longhorned beetle is 110 miles2 encompassing Worcester, Shrewsbury, Boylston, West Boylston, and parts of Holden and Auburn. If you believe you have seen damage caused by this insect, such as exit holes or egg sites, on susceptible host trees like maple, please call the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program office in Worcester, MA at 508-852-8090 or toll free at 1-866-702-9938. Adult insects of this species will not be present at this time of year.
To report an Asian longhorned beetle find online or compare it to common insect look-alikes, visit: http://massnrc.org/pests/albreport.aspx or https://www.aphis.usda.gov/pests-diseases/alb/report
Concerned that you may have found an invasive insect or suspicious damage caused by one? Need to report a pest sighting? If so, please visit the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project: http://massnrc.org/pests/pestreports.htm .
A note about Tick Awareness: deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) are all found throughout Massachusetts. Each can carry their own complement of diseases. Anyone working in tick habitats (wood-line areas, forested areas, and landscaped areas with ground cover) should check themselves regularly for ticks while practicing preventative measures. Have a tick and need it tested? Visit the web page of the UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology (www.tickdiseases.org) and click on the red Test a Tick button for more information.
Reported by Tawny Simisky, Extension Entomologist, UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery, & Urban Forestry Program