Woody ornamental (and other) insect and non-insect arthropod pests to consider, a selected few:
- Gypsy Moth:(Lymantria dispar) host plants include but are certainly not limited to oak (favored), maple, birch, poplar, elm, witch hazel, and many others. Gypsy moth mortality is again occurring in Massachusetts! Population densities are much lower this year compared to 2017, but similar to what happened that year, a quick and dramatic mortality event occurred the end of last week and into early this week. We know insects don't follow calendar dates, but from records from previous years, Entomophaga maimaiga (a fungal pathogen specific to gypsy moth) also struck the gypsy moth caterpillar population over the weekend of 6/24 and 6/25/2017. So it would appear we are "right on schedule" in 2019! Of course, the NPV virus that also kills gypsy moth caterpillars could be active at this time as well. Field identification of the cause of death is not always 100% accurate, but in general gypsy moth caterpillars killed by Entomophaga maimaiga hang vertically from trees with their legs extended and stiff. They may also be desiccated. When the NPV virus kills the caterpillar, in general, they hang from the tree in an inverted V-shape and are still “juicy”. Caterpillar mortality has been reported from Millis, MA (6/22/19), Leicester, MA (6/23/19), Amherst, MA (6/25/19), and Belchertown, MA (6/25/19). Dr. Joseph Elkinton reports that he and his lab team collected gypsy moth caterpillars from their research sites in Massachusetts on Monday (6/24/19) and by Tuesday, 70% of the caterpillars had died. At the end of last week, they recorded 50% mortality at the same research locations. Clearly, an epizootic has again occurred in the gypsy moth population. Given that gypsy moth caterpillars were at a much lower density this year, this mortality event could be the final straw that drives them to low, non-pest densities that we hopefully will enjoy for at least the next few years (possibly decades if history is any indicator) in most locations in MA!
Gypsy moth caterpillars typically begin to pupate at this time in Massachusetts, if they survive. Pupation should be observed and adults may begin to appear within the next week or so. Once pupation occurs, the insect will no longer feed for the current season, and management is no longer necessary or feasible. Adult moths do not feed. The adult male gypsy moth is brown with black markings and highly feathered antennae. Adult male gypsy moths can fly. The adult female gypsy moth is white with black markings and straight, threadlike, black antennae. In Massachusetts, female gypsy moths do not fly (in other parts of the world, certain types of gypsy moths have females capable of flight). After the adults mate, the female moths will begin to lay the egg masses (tan/brown and spongy) which will overwinter. But because of the pathogens specific to gypsy moth mentioned above, we can hope that adults and egg masses will be few and far between!
- 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. 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.
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 .
- White Spotted Pine Sawyer (WSPS): Monochamus scutellatus adults can emerge now throughout July. This is a native insect in Massachusetts and is usually not a pest. Larvae develop in weakened or recently dead conifers, particularly eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). However, the white spotted pine sawyer looks very similar to the invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis, ALB. ALB adults do not emerge in Massachusetts until July and August. Beginning in July, look for the key difference between WSPS and ALB adults, which is a white spot in the top center of the wing covers (the scutellum) on the back of the beetle. White spotted pine sawyer will have this white spot, whereas Asian longhorned beetle will not. Both insects can have other white spots on the rest of their wing covers; however, the difference in the color of the scutellum is a key characteristic. If you find a suspicious insect, report it:http://massnrc.org/pests/albreport.aspx or https://www.aphis.usda.gov/pests-diseases/alb/report .
- Cottony Taxus Scale: Pulvinaria floccifera, also referred to as the cottony camellia scale, utilizes such hosts as Taxus, Camellia, holly, Hydrangea, Japanese maple, Euonymus, Magnolia, and jasmine, among others. Females have laid the long, narrow, white and fluted egg sac that makes them much more noticeable. Eggs will hatch over an extended period of 6 weeks and crawlers may be treated between 802-1388 GDD’s. This insect can cause the host to appear off-color. They also produce honeydew which promotes sooty mold growth. Dieback is not common with this insect. Target the underside of the foliage. Horticultural oil, neem oil, and insecticidal soaps may be used to manage these soft scales. Reduced risk options help preserve natural enemies.
- Deer Tick/Blacklegged Tick: Check out the archived FREE TickTalk with TickReport webinars available here:https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/education-events/webinars . The next live webinar will be held on October 9, 2019 with Dr. Stephen Rich of the UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology. Previous webinars including information about deer ticks and associated diseases, American dog ticks and lone star ticks and associated diseases, ticks and personal protection, and updates from the Laboratory of Medical Zoology are archived at the link above.
Deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) nymphs (immatures) are active at this time, and may be encountered now through August. For images of all deer tick life stages, along with an outline of the diseases they carry, visit: http://www.tickencounter.org/tick_identification/deer_tick .
Anyone working in the yard and garden should be aware that there is the potential to encounter deer ticks. The deer tick or blacklegged tick can transmit Lyme disease, human babesiosis, human anaplasmosis, and other diseases. Preventative activities, such as daily tick checks, wearing appropriate clothing, and permethrin treatments for clothing (according to label instructions) can aid in reducing the risk that a tick will become attached to your body. If a tick cannot attach and feed, it will not transmit disease. For more information about personal protective measures, visit: http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/protect_yourself . For a quick overview of skin repellents available to protect yourself from ticks, visit “Tickology: Skin Repellents” by Larry Dapsis of Cape Cod Cooperative Extension:https://bit.ly/2J8IJBl .
Have you just removed an attached tick from yourself or a loved one with a pair of tweezers? If so, consider sending the tick to the UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology to be tested for disease causing pathogens. To submit a tick to be tested, visit: https://www.tickreport.com/ and click on the blue “Order a TickReport” button. Results are typically available within 3 business days, or less. By the time you make an appointment with your physician following the tick attachment, you may have the results back from TickReport to bring to your physician to aid in a conversation about risk.
The UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology does not give medical advice, nor are the results of their tests diagnostic of human disease. Transmission of a pathogen from the tick to you is dependent upon how long the tick had been feeding, and each pathogen has its own transmission time. TickReport is an excellent measure of exposure risk for the tick (or ticks) that you send in to be tested. Feel free to print out and share your TickReport with your healthcare provider.
- Elongate Hemlock Scale: Fiorinia externa is found on eastern, Carolina, and Japanese hemlock, as well as yew, spruce, and fir. Overlap of many developmental stages at any given time can be observed. Treatments for the crawler, or mobile, stage of this insect may be made in late May through mid-June, or between 360-700 GDD’s, base 50°F.
- Emerald Ash Borer: (Agrilus planipennis, EAB) Three additional communities have had emerald ash borer confirmed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. This brings the 2019 count to 29 new communities added to the list of known areas where this insect occurs in the state. A map of these locations and others previously known across the state may be found here: https://ag.umass.edu/fact-sheets/emerald-ash-borer .
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 has been reported in cultivated olive (Olea europaea). Signs of an EAB infested tree may include D-shaped exit holes in the bark (from adult emergence), “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.
For further information about this insect, please visit: https://ag.umass.edu/fact-sheets/emerald-ash-borer . If you believe you have located EAB-infested ash trees, particularly in an area of Massachusetts not identified on the map provided, please report here: http://massnrc.org/pests/pestreports.htm .
- Euonymus Caterpillar: Yponomeuta cagnagella is of European origin and widespread in distribution throughout Europe. It was first reported in North America in Ontario in 1967. Adult moths have emerged at a location in Amherst, MA being monitored as of 6/25/19. The adult moth of this species is sometimes referred to as the “spindle ermine moth”. They are small and entirely white except for black spots adorning their wings. Antennae are white and long and threadlike. Adult moths no longer feed. Females will, over the next few weeks, lay their eggs. Eggs are reported to hatch in mid-August and tiny larvae overwinter beneath their eggshell-like covering. (No further feeding by this insect will occur until next year.)
The euonymus caterpillars (larvae) feed in groups and envelop the foliage of the host plant in webs as they feed. Hosts include: Euonymus europaeus (tree form), E. kiautschovicus, E. alatus, and E. japonicus. Mature caterpillars are just under an inch in length, creamy yellow-gray in color with black spots and a black head capsule. By late June, these larvae pupate in white, oval-shaped cocoons which are typically oriented together vertically either on host plants or non-hosts in the area. Cocoons can be found in cracks and crevices, or webbed together leaves. The adult moth emerges in late June in most locations. The adult female secretes a gummy substance over her eggs which will harden, making them even more difficult to see. Eggs hatch by mid-August, at which time the tiny larvae prepare to overwinter beneath their eggshell-like covering. These larvae are inactive until the following year, when caterpillars group together to feed on newly emerging leaves, creating a mess of webs as they feed. There is one generation per year. Plants may be partially or entirely defoliated. Management of young, actively feeding caterpillars with Bacillus thuringiensis is possible if deemed necessary, however many species of Euonymus are considered invasive themselves.
- Fall Webworm: Hyphantria cunea is native to North America and Mexico. It is now considered a world-wide pest, as it has spread throughout much of Europe and Asia. (For example, it was introduced accidentally into Hungary from North America in the 1940’s.) Hosts include nearly all shade, fruit, and ornamental trees except conifers. In the USA, at least 88 species of trees are hosts for these insects, while in Europe at least 230 species are impacted. In the past history of this pest, it was once thought that the fall webworm was a two-species complex. It is now thought that H. cunea has two color morphs – one black headed and one red headed. These two color forms differ not only in the coloration of the caterpillars and the adults, but also in their behaviors. Caterpillars may go through at least 11 molts, each stage occurring within a silken web they produce over the host. When alarmed, all caterpillars in the group will move in unison in jerking motions that may be a mechanism for self-defense. Depending upon the location and climate, 1-4 generations of fall webworm can occur per year. Fall webworm adult moths lay eggs on the underside of the leaves of host plants in the spring. These eggs hatch in late June or early July depending on climate. Young larvae feed together in groups on the undersides of leaves, first skeletonizing the leaf and then enveloping other leaves and eventually entire branches within their webs. Webs are typically found on the terminal ends of branches. All caterpillar activity occurs within this tent, which becomes filled with leaf fragments, cast skins, and frass. Fully grown larvae then wander from the webs and pupate in protected areas such as the leaf litter where they will remain for the winter. Adult fall webworm moths emerge the following spring/early summer to start the cycle over again. 50+ species of parasites and 36+ species of predators are known to attack fall webworm in North America. Fall webworms typically do not cause extensive damage to their hosts. Nests may be an aesthetic issue for some. If in reach, small fall webworm webs may be pruned out of trees and shrubs and destroyed. Do not set fire to H. cunea webs when they are still attached to the host plant.
- Imported Willow Leaf Beetle: Plagiodera versicolora adult beetles overwinter near susceptible hosts. A few adult imported willow leaf beetles were seen feeding on willow foliage in Chesterfield, MA on 5/11/19 and no mating or egg laying was seen at the time.By 5/22/19, it was very easy to spot adult imported willow leaf beetles feeding and mating, as well as the damage they cause to the leaves. Egg laying was also observed on 5/22/19. On 5/29/19, feeding adult beetles and clusters of eggs were still observed. No larvae were yet seen at this particular location at that time. However, by 6/2/19, clusters of eggs hatched and tiny, feeding imported willow leaf beetle larvae could be seen. These yellow-ish larvae skeletonize the leaf in groups. Larvae were observed feeding on Japanese pussy willow and corkscrew willow on 6/12/19 in Boylston, MA. Extensive skeletonization of leaves was occurring on the corkscrew willow, in particular, at this location. Larvae are slug-like and bluish-green to yellow in color. They will feed in clusters and skeletonize the leaves. Most plants can tolerate the feeding from this insect, and foliage will appear brown. Repeated yearly feeding can be an issue, in which case management of the young larvae may be necessary. Take care with treatment in areas near water.
- Lace Bugs: Corythucha spp. and Stephanitis spp. lace bugs are active. Corythucha spp. utilize many hosts such as: hawthorn, cotoneaster, Amelanchier, quince, Pyracantha, various oaks, birch, maple, mountain ash, sycamore, hackberry, elm, walnut, butternut, basswood, etc. Corythucha spp. lace bug eggs (tiny and black) were seen on bur oak on 6/25/2019 in Amherst, MA. Egg are so small, they may look like fungal spores without magnification. Stephanitis spp. lacebugs such as S. pyriodes can cause severe injury to azalea foliage. S. rhododendri can be common on Rhododendron and mountain laurel. S. takeyai has been found developing on Japanese Andromeda, Leucothoe, Styrax, and willow. Stephanitis spp.lace bug activity should be monitored through September. Before populations become too large, treat with a summer rate horticultural oil spray as needed. Be sure to target the undersides of the foliage in order to get proper coverage of the insects. Systemic insecticides applied after bloom have been reported as effective. Be aware of the implications this may have on pollinators attracted to these flowering plants when making management decisions. Certain azalea and Andromeda cultivars may be less preferred by lace bugs.
- Lily Leaf Beetle: Lilioceris lilii adults overwintered in sheltered places. Although adult beetles were not seen during the chilly weather on 5/13/19 in Amherst, MA, previously laid eggs were found on host plant foliage in this location. As of 5/21/19, egg hatch had occurred and larvae of various sizes could be seen feeding on foliage in groups. Smaller larvae skeletonize leaves, whereas larger larvae can eat the entire leaf.By 5/30/19, large lily leaf beetle larvae were observed eating entire leaves. Conditions were also favorable to see adults mating, and eggs could also still be found at this location on 5/30. On 6/3/19, adult lily leaf beetles, eggs, and larvae of various sizes were still seen on host plants. Susceptible hosts include Lilium spp. (Turk’s cap, tiger, Easter, Asiatic, and Oriental lilies) and Fritillaria spp. (Note: daylilies are not hosts.) Typically, in May, mating will occur and each female will begin to lay 250-450 eggs in neat rows on the underside of the foliage. If there are only a few plants in the garden, hand picking and destroying overwintering adults can help reduce local garden-level populations.
- Spotted Lanternfly: (Lycorma delicatula, SLF) is not known to occur in Massachusetts landscapes (no established populations are known in MA at this time). However, officials with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) urged residents to check plants for spotted lanternfly. On February 21, 2019 MDAR announced the discovery of a single dead spotted lanternfly adult at a private residence in Boston. As a result of this discovery, officials asked the public to check potted plants they purchase and report any suspicious insects. MDAR reports that this particular individual appeared to have been unintentionally transported this past December in a shipment of poinsettia plants originating from Pennsylvania. Officials also report that there is currently no evidence that this pest has become established in MA. For more information about this finding, please visit the MA Department of Agricultural Resources press release:https://www.mass.gov/news/state-agricultural-officials-urge-residents-to-check-plants-for-spotted-lanternfly .
This insect is a member of the Order Hemiptera (true bugs, cicadas, hoppers, aphids, and others) and the Family Fulgoridae, also known as planthoppers. The spotted lanternfly is a non-native species first detected in the United States in Berks County, Pennsylvania and confirmed on September 22, 2014.
The spotted lanternfly is considered native to China, India, and Vietnam. It has been introduced as a non-native insect to South Korea and Japan, prior to its detection in the United States. In South Korea, it is considered invasive and a pest of grapes and peaches. The spotted lanternfly has been reported from over 70 species of plants, including the following: tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) (preferred host), apple (Malus spp.), plum, cherry, peach, apricot (Prunus spp.), grape (Vitis spp.), pine (Pinus spp.), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), white ash (Fraxinus americana), willow (Salix spp.), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), American linden (Tilia americana), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), big-toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata), black birch (Betula lenta), black cherry (Prunus serotina), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), black walnut (Juglans nigra), dogwood (Cornus spp.), Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus), maple (Acer spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera).
The adults and immatures of this species damage host plants by feeding on sap from stems, leaves, and the trunks of trees. In the springtime in Pennsylvania (late April - mid-May) nymphs (immatures) are found on smaller plants and vines and new growth of trees and shrubs. Third and fourth instar nymphs migrate to the tree of heaven and are observed feeding on trunks and branches. Trees may be found with sap weeping from the wounds caused by the insect’s feeding. The sugary secretions (excrement) created by this insect may coat the host plant, later leading to the growth of sooty mold. Insects such as wasps, hornets, bees, and ants may also be attracted to the sugary waste created by the lanternflies, or sap weeping from open wounds in the host plant. Host plants have been described as giving off a fermented odor when this insect is present.
Adults are present by the middle of July in Pennsylvania and begin laying eggs by late September and continue laying eggs through late November and even early December in that state. Adults may be found on the trunks of trees such as the tree of heaven or other host plants growing in close proximity to them. Egg masses of this insect are gray in color and, in some ways, look similar to gypsy moth egg masses.
Host plants, bricks, stone, lawn furniture, recreational vehicles, and other smooth surfaces can be inspected for egg masses. Egg masses laid on outdoor residential items such as those listed above may pose the greatest threat for spreading this insect via human aided movement.
For more information about the spotted lanternfly, visit this fact sheet: https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/spotted-lanternfly .
- Taxus Mealybug: Dysmicoccus wistariae was spotted on Taxus in Amherst on 5/30/19, 6/3/19, and again on 6/19/19. This insect will produce honeydew and lead to sooty mold growth, yellowing of needles, and sparsely foliated plants. Eventual dieback may be possible. This species is commonly associated with Taxus in New England, but can be occasionally found on dogwood, Rhododendron, Prunus spp., maple, Andromeda, and crabapple. These mealybugs are found on stems and branches and particularly like to congregate at branch crotches. Management may be targeted between 246-618 GDD’s. Horticultural oil and neem oil may be used according to label instructions.
- Viburnum Leaf Beetle: Pyrrhalta viburni is a beetle in the family Chrysomelidae that is native to Europe, but was found in Massachusetts in 2004. In Amherst, MA on 6/17/19, plants being monitored for the presence of this pest were devoid of feeding larvae. When observed again on 6/26/19, no larvae or adult Viburnum leaf beetle were seen at this location. This is the time of year that Viburnum leaf beetle larvae, when they are approximately 10-11 mm. long, crawl down the shrub, enter the soil, and pupate. Once this occurs, feeding stops (pauses) until the adult beetles emerge in early July. At that time, adult beetles will resume feeding, mate, and the females will lay their eggs in pits they chew at the ends of twigs. Eggs overwinter. Adults may also migrate to previously not yet infested plants. This beetle feeds exclusively on many different species of Viburnum, which includes, but is not limited to, susceptible plants such as V. dentatum, V. nudum, V. opulus, V. propinquum, and V. rafinesquianum. Larvae may be treated with a product containing spinosad. Some Viburnum have been observed to have varying levels of resistance to this insect, including but not limited to V. bodnantense, V. carlesii, V. davidii, V. plicatum, V. rhytidophyllum, V. setigerum, and V. sieboldii. More information about Viburnum leaf beetle may be found at http://www.hort.cornell.edu/vlb/ .
- Woolly Apple Aphid: Eriosoma lanigerum may be found on apple, crabapple, hawthorn, mountain-ash, Pyracantha, and elm hosts. The primary (winter) host is elm, on which aphids infest emerging spring leaves, causing leaves to curl or close into stunted, rosette-like clusters found at twig tips. Any such damage seen now was caused earlier this season. Following a few generations on elm, the aphids will develop into a winged form, which will disperse and seek out apple and crabapple. Rosette-like clusters of leaves, caused earlier this year by the woolly apple aphid on elm, are now vacant at a location in Amherst, MA as observed on 6/26/19. Winged individuals have dispersed. Multiple generations will occur on these alternate hosts in the summer and by the fall, a winged form will return to elm and mated females will lay eggs near elm buds.
- Woolly Elm Aphid: Eriosoma americanum females lay a single egg in the cracks and crevices of elm bark, where the egg overwinters. Eggs hatch on elm in the spring as leaves are unfolding. A young, wingless female hatched from the egg feeds on the underside of leaf tissue. This female aphid matures and gives birth to 200 young, all females, without mating. These aphids feed, and the elm leaf curls around them and protects them. By the end of June, winged migrants mature and find serviceberry hosts. As observed on 6/26/2019, elm leaves previously curled by the woolly elm aphid are “empty” (winged aphids have left the elm in search of serviceberry). Another set of females is produced. These new females crawl to and begin feeding on the roots of serviceberry. Multiple generations occur on the roots of serviceberry through the summer.
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 (https://www.tickreport.com/ ) and click on the blue Order a TickReport button for more information.
Reported by Tawny Simisky, Extension Entomologist, UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery, & Urban Forestry Program