With a stroke of his pen, Governor Mark Dayton signed a proclamation officially declaring May 22-28 as EAB (Emerald Ash Borer) Week in Minnesota. This is a good opportunity to remind people that EAB is still a serious pest that threatens our state's nearly 1 billion ash trees. That week also corresponds with the official start to camping season as people travel for the Memorial Day weekend.
The theme for EAB Awareness Week is "Keep our trees safe. Use MDA (Minnesota Department of Agriculture) certified or local firewood." This is such a critical message for people to understand that the one of the most important methods for EAB to be transported into areas that are uninfested is through firewood. That is why people are strongly encouraged to leave their firewood at home and buy from local, approved firewood vendors.
Currently EAB is known only in Ramsey, Hennepin, and Houston counties. MDA has enacted quarantines in these counties to try to prevent infested ash product from moving out of these areas and into uninfested sites. To supplement this effort, MDA also continues to conduct surveys using purple traps to try to detect EAB soon after it enters an area. They have also enacted management strategies to slow the rate of spread of EAB. Citizens can also help by reporting insects they suspect are EAB and potentially EAB infested ash trees. If you think you have discovered EAB go to this step by step guide. If you can still can not rule this invasive pest out by the end of the page, then contact the University of Minnesota Forest Resources Extension who will put you in contact with someone that can help you determine whether you have EAB.
For more information on EAB, see the University of Minnesota Extension EAB web site.
Gypsy moth, Japanese beetle, multicolored Asian lady beetle, soybean aphid, emerald ash borer are just some of the insects on the long list of invasive insect pest species that have entered the U.S. and Minnesota and have caused significant problems to crops, landscape plants, or even just as nuisances.
An insect that should be on our radar screen that is present in the U.S. but has not been discovered in Minnesota yet is the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys. It was introduced from Asia and was first found in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2001. It is now known in most mid-Atlantic states as well as in Oregon.
This is a moderate-sized insect, measuring about one-half to three-quarters inch long. Like other stink bugs, it has a shield-like or triangular shaped body. The BMSB is brown with whitish mottling on its body.
There are native stink bugs in Minnesota that are also brown and a similar size. The best way to distinguish between them is BMSB has alternating black and white markings on its abdomen. Also look for black antennae with white bands. The immature BMSB look similar but are smaller and lack wings. BMSB are pests because they feed on fruit, like apples and peaches and vegetables, such as corn, tomatoes, and soybeans. They feed on a wide variety of plants and are also found on many hardwood trees and shrubs and some herbaceous plants, although it is not clear how injurious they are to these plants. This year has seen an explosion in the numbers of this stink bug in many areas were they are already known to occur, causing loss in some crops.
Also watch out for BMSB in the fall as they can be pests by entering homes and other buildings as the weather starts to become cold, much like boxelder bugs and multicolored Asia lady beetles.
In addition to their unwanted presence, they also give off a very disagreeable, pungent odor.
It is important to discover this insect as soon as possible when it first arrives in Minnesota so it can be controlled. If you believe you have seen a BMSB, report it to the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture's "Arrest the Pest" Hotline at 651-201-6648 (metro) or 1-888-545-6684 (toll free). You can also e-mail them at Arrest.the.Pest@state.mn.us.
For information about gardening, you can reach me at Stephanie@starpoint.net