Pest Alert: Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted Lanternfly (Photo: NY Department Environmental Conservation)

The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a new invasive insect that is native to China, Bangladesh and Vietnam, and introduced to Japan and Korea where it has become a major pest of grapes. Spotted Lanternfly primarily feeds on tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) but can also feed on a wide variety of plants such as grapevine, hops, maple, walnut and fruit trees, which has posed a great threat to these industries. This invasive pest was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since been found in New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. In New York. A dead insect was found in Delaware County in the fall of 2017. In 2018, insects were reported in Albany, Monroe, Yates and Suffolk counties. Following these reports, the DEC and Department of Agriculture and Markets immediately began extensive surveys throughout the area. At this time, no additional insects have been found.

The Spotted Lanternfly adult is approximately 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide at rest. Immature stages are black with white spots and develop red patches as they grow to maturity. Nymphs are black with white spots that turn red before transitioning into adults. Spotted Lanternfly can be seen as early as April and adults begin to appear in July. Their forewings are grayish with black spots. The lower portions of their hindwings are red with black spots and the upper portions are dark with a white stripe. In the fall, adults lay 1-inch-long egg masses, which when first laid are are smooth and brownish-gray with a shiny, waxy coating. Older egg masses appear as rows of 30 to 50 brownish seed-like deposits in 4 to 7 columns on the trunk, roughly an inch long.  Spotted Lanternfly is capable of jumping and flying short distances and is spread primarily through human activity. They can spread to new areas when they lay their eggs on vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture and stone.

Lanternfly Life Cycle (Photo: Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension)

Attacked trees will develop weeping wounds which appear wet, while leaving a greyish or black trail along the trunk. The sap may give off a fermented odor and will attract other insects to feed, notably wasps and ants. To destroy egg masses, scrape them off, place them into alcohol or hand sanitizer and double bag. It is important to collect specimens of any life stage and report sightings of egg masses, nymphs, or adult spotted lanternfly to your local DEC or Cooperative Extension for further verification.

Plans are in place for the detection and prevention of Spotted Lanternfly in the New York area. Extensive trapping surveys will be conducted in high-risk areas throughout the state as well as inspections of nursery stock, stone shipments and commercial transports from infected areas. The DEC and partner organizations encourage everyone to be on the lookout for this pest.

Sources: Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation

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Late Summer/Early Fall Pest Alert: Fall Webworm

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Fall Webworm

Fall is approaching and a common garden pest, the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea) can become noticeable on trees, causing unsightly larval nests covering entire branches, resulting in stress to the tree and severe leaf damage. Fall webworm are caterpillars that weave loose webbing around the tree’s outer foliage while feeding on leaves, compared to tent caterpillars that appear in spring and build their more opaque nests within the inner crotch of the branches. The webworm caterpillar is approximately one inch in length with a light greenish-yellow body and black to reddish head. Adults emerge later on as white moths with dark spots on their wings.

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Fall Webworm Caterpillar

The best way to eliminate fall webworm is to remove the infected branches immediately, before the larvae hatch and take over the tree. If the caterpillars have already left the nest, it is recommended to spray with an organophosphate insecticide such as Acephate (contained in Orthene or Sevin) or Malathion. Acephate is both a foliar and soil systemic which keeps on working 10–15 days after application. Malathion is a foliar insecticide which is also commonly used, but note that Malathion may leave a residue. The best proactive method of killing overwintering larvae is to apply a dormant oil in early spring while the tree is dormant. Dormant oil is a more natural solution and works by smothering and killing the overwintering eggs.

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Fall Webworm Adult Moth (Source: Wikimedia Commons Author TampAGS, for AGS Media)

In the spring, adult moths emerge and deposit eggs, continuing the life cycle of the caterpillar. These caterpillars may go through as many as eleven growth stages before leaving the web.

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PEST ALERT: Southern Pine Beetle Strikes Long Island

Southern Pine beetle  invasive insect

Southern Pine Beetle-The invasive insect is threatening pine trees on Long Island’s south shore. Photo Credit: New York State DEC

Southern Pine Beetle has been spotted in Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley, the Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale, the Henry’s Hollow Pine Barrens State Forest in Hampton Bays and recently (December 2014) in Belmont Lake in North Babylon, Heckscher in East Islip, Brookhaven in Wading River, and the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River.  

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Central Pine Barrens Commission, originally confirmed the presence of the beetle in three locations along the southern shore of Long Island and recently in four more locations (since December 2014).

The southern pine beetle is a bark beetle that infests pine trees. It is native to the southern United States and has expanded its range northward and westward possibly due to milder winter temperatures.  There has not been enough sustained cold to kill off the insect before reproducing and doing damage; hence, the population is increasing.  The Southern Pine Beetle is the most invasive pest known to the south and has done extensive damage to the pine population there. To identify the beetle, it is only 2-4 mm in length which is about the size of a grain of rice, and is reddish-brown to black in color.

The beetle does its damage by entering through the crevices in the bark and tunneling down until it reaches the cambium growing layer directly below. There the female creates S-shaped tunnels through the living tissue and lays her eggs. After the eggs hatch, the larvae will feed from these tunnels sucking the tree of nutrients.  The new adults eventually bore through the outer bark leaving round holes that often appear as a shotgun pattern and the cycle repeats itself.  Most trees die quickly, often within 2-4 months, due to disruption of flow of nutrients and girdling from tunnel construction.  Here on Long Island the host tree for the beetle is the pitch pine which is prevalent in the Pine Barrens.

DEC urges the public to report any recently dead pine they encounter in the Long Island area, especially if there are several trees grouped together. Sightings should be reported to the Forest Health Diagnostic Lab through the toll-free information line, 1-866-640-0652 or by email, foresthealth@dec.ny.gov. If possible, accompany any reports via email with photos of the trees including close ups of any damage. An added item in the photo for scale, such as a penny, would help with identification.

Sources:

Southern Pine Beetle Confirmed for First Time in New York State

Southern Pine Beetle

Long Island Confronts Destructive Southern Pine Beetles

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