Personal Protection Measures for Mosquito-Borne Illness Continues to be Essential in Massachusetts until Hard Frost:
- Mosquitoes and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE): EEE virus activity has been detected in Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Worcester counties. As of 9/26/19, twelve human cases of EEE have been confirmed this year by the MA Department of Public Health, including three fatalities. For more information about EEE, who is at risk, how to minimize risk/steps to protect ourselves, manage mosquitoes in our landscapes, and for more information about EEE from the MA Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit UMass Extension’s Hort Notes under “Trouble Maker of the Month”: https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/newsletters/hort-notes/hort-notes-2019-vol-307 .
Mantids and “Slugs”:
- Mantids: The Mantidae (the family containing insects commonly known as praying mantises) are charismatic insects known for their abilities as predators of other insects. Mantids possess raptorial (grasping) forelegs which allow them to ambush and catch prey items that happen by. These hunters are fascinating to many observers to watch, and in the case of the mantid reported and observed on 9/28/19 in Springfield, MA, the impressive size of certain species can be intimidating to passersby. It is suspected that the insect in these photos is what is known as the Chinese mantid (Tenodera sinensis). This insect is very large, usually up to just over 4 inches in length, and is generally brown in color with green and yellow striping along the sides of the wings. It is typically considered the largest mantid species known to North America, but may be confused with the narrow-winged mantis (Tenodera angustipennis). Mantids develop from eggs that are laid in masses (an ootheca) which some have described as having a similar appearance to a packing peanut. Immatures resemble the adults, but lack wings until the adult stage. The Chinese mantid was frequently sold as a predator of garden pests, however its ability to manage garden pests is thought to be overstated. These large and indiscriminant predators may also be seen capturing and eating beneficial insects such as bees, wasps, and other desirable species visiting flowers. As such, the purchase of mantids for the biological control of pest insects (especially smaller pests such as aphids, mites, and scales, which are not on the menu for mantids that prefer larger prey), is not typically recommended for gardeners. Additional mantid species found in the USA include the European mantid (Mantis religiosa), Carolina mantid (Stagmomantis carolina), California mantid (S. californica), and Florida mantid (S. floridensis). The Stagmomantis species are native.
- “Slugs”: In the case of the insect captured in this photo, the term slug is used to describe certain caterpillars, the Limacodidae, or the slug caterpillars who are members of the Lepidoptera and develop into moths as adults. These caterpillars get this name from their “slug-like” appearance, and this is perhaps due to their relatively strange physical structure when compared to other lepidopteran caterpillars. Slug caterpillars have medial suckers in place of paired abdominal prolegs, as we may be used to seeing in most caterpillars, and the head is deeply withdrawn into the thorax. Rather than crawl, these caterpillars seemingly glide. Aside from that, they often look nothing like what one pictures when they think of a slug; these caterpillars can be fantastically armed with stinging spines which can pack a punch to those who unsuspectingly try to handle them, while also possessing extraordinary color schemes which make them fascinating to behold. In the case of the species pictured here, the spiny oak-slug (Euclea delphinii), although well-armed with spines, has a sting that is considered mild and is considerably less severe than that of other slug caterpillars such as the saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea). The spiny oak-slug comes in many color forms, but is usually recognized by its overall shape and 2-4 patches of black spines at the rear of the body (4 are visible in this photo). These insects are native to New England and a single generation is known with caterpillars generally present from late June to October. It was a wonderful chance to get to see one of these caterpillars, hanging out in plain sight on vinyl siding, as the spiny oak-slug caterpillar is generally regarded as secretive, hiding between leaves during the day. Host plants include apple, ash, basswood, beech, birch, blueberry, cherry, chestnut, hackberry, hickory, maple, oak, poplar, sycamore, willow, and many other woody plants. The impact of their feeding is minimal.
Woody ornamental (and other) insect and non-insect arthropod pests to consider, a selected few:
- 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 .
- Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: (Halyomorpha halys; BMSB) is a non-native insect first detected in the United States in 1998 in Allentown, PA. This insect was accidentally introduced from Asia. It was first detected in MA in 2007. It has since been reported in multiple counties of MA. UMass Extension’s Fruit Program announced on September 9th that for the first time in Massachusetts, there is now evidence of BMSB directly feeding on fruit crops in a commercial orchard setting. On this date, BMSB nymphs were observed feeding on peach in Belchertown, MA. More information about BMSB in commercial fruit can be found here: https://bit.ly/2lWcWvu . BMSB attacks a broad variety of plants, including fruit crops and shade trees. Host plants include but are not limited to: peach, apple, pear, maples, dogwoods, butterfly bush, and vegetable crops. A more comprehensive list of hosts may be found here: https://www.stopbmsb.org/where-is-bmsb/host-plants/ . An adult brown marmorated stink bug was observed feeding on an Amur maple (Acer ginnala) samara in Amherst, MA on 9/3/2019. Brown marmorated stink bugs can be distinguished from native stink bugs by the white bands on the antennae and alternating white and dark bands at the rear edge of the abdomen. Adults emerge around April from their overwintering locations. Females can lay approximately 500 eggs during their lifetime, in clusters of 30 eggs or so at a time, roughly from June-August. Eggs hatch and the immature insects (the nymphs) undergo 5 instars. Adults can be nuisance insects as they become fall home invaders, roughly by the end of September and into October, seeking sheltered locations to overwinter. BMSB was observed entering a home in Chesterfield, MA on 10/2/19.
More information about BMSB can be found at: https://www.massnrc.org/pests/pestFAQsheets/brownmarmoratedstinkbug.html .
Deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) adult activity will increase again in October, and remain active throughout the winter whenever temperatures are above freezing. 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.
- Dogwood sawfly: Macremphytus tarsatus larvae are commonly seen feeding on dogwoods, especially gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa). One generation occurs per year. The larvae of the dogwood sawfly overwinter in decaying wood and occasionally (rarely) compromised structural timber. An overwintering “cell” is created in this soft wood. Pupation occurs in the springtime and adults can take a lengthy time to emerge, roughly from late May through July. 100+ eggs are laid in groups on the underside of leaves. Eggs hatch and the larvae feed gregariously, initially skeletonizing the leaves. As the caterpillars grow in size, they are capable of eating the entire leaf, leaving only midveins behind. Larval appearance varies greatly throughout instars. Early instars are translucent and yellow, but as the caterpillars grow, they develop black spots (over the yellow) and become covered in a white powder-like material. Larvae and their shed skins may resemble bird droppings. Full-grown larvae begin to wander in search of a suitable overwintering location. Rotting wood lying on the ground is preferred for this. At this time of year, it is late for management of this insect. Any remaining caterpillars could be collected from plants and dropped into a can of soapy water.
- Emerald Ash Borer: (Agrilus planipennis, EAB) 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 .
- Fall Home-Invading Insects: Various insects, such as ladybugs, boxelder bugs, seedbugs, and stink bugs have begun seeking overwintering shelters in warm places, such as homes. While such invaders do not cause any structural damage, they can become a nuisance especially when they are present in large numbers. If you are not willing to share your home with such insects, repair torn window screens, repair gaps around windows and doors, and sure up any other gaps through which they might enter the home.
- Hickory Tussock Moth: Lophocampa caryae is native to southern Canada and the northeastern United States. There is one generation per year. Overwintering occurs as a pupa inside a fuzzy, oval shaped cocoon. Adult moths emerge approximately in May and their presence can continue into July. Females will lay clusters of 100+ eggs together on the underside of leaves. Females of this species can fly, however they have been called weak fliers due to their large size. When first hatched from their eggs, the young caterpillars will feed gregariously in a group, eventually dispersing and heading out on their own to forage. Caterpillar maturity can take up to three months and color changes occur during this time. These caterpillars are essentially white with some black markings and a black head capsule. They are very hairy, and should not be handled with bare hands as many can have skin irritation or rashes (dermatitis) as a result of interacting with hickory tussock moth hairs. By late September, the caterpillars will create their oval, fuzzy cocoons hidden in the leaf litter where they will again overwinter. Hosts whose leaves are fed upon by these caterpillars include but are not limited to hickory, walnut, butternut, linden, apple, basswood, birch, elm, black locust, and aspen. Maple and oak have also been reportedly fed upon by this insect. Several wasp species are parasitoids of hickory tussock moth caterpillars.
- 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 .
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