GOSHEN, Ind. — Looking back over a career spanning 38 years, I now realize a fairly high percentage of time has been spent helping people deal with invasive species of one sort or another.
In November 1982, my first day in Elkhart County, I attended a meeting about newly discover gypsy moths near Goshen. There have been many others since: Japanese Beetle, pine shoot borer, emerald ash borer, multicolored Asian ladybugs, Asian longhorned beetle, marmorated stink bug, spotted winged drosophila, soybean aphid, hemlock woolly adelgid, and Asian garden beetle to name a few insects.
It is not just limited to insects. Diseases such as dogwood anthracnose, oak wilt, thousand canker disease of walnut, tar spot in corn and soybean rust have visited our state. Incredibly, Dutch elm disease is still actively killing elm trees today, despite being introduced here sometime in the 1900s.
Then there are the invasive plants, and there are a lot of them. Asian bittersweet, Asian and Amur bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, autumn olive, purple loosestrife, tree of heaven, multiflora rose and wintercreeper are among weedy invasive plants I hear about. Many, such as Bradford pear and winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus), started out as desirable landscaping plants, but have found their way into areas like wetlands, woodlands, or other uncultivated or unmowed areas, suppressing the native plants.
One of the most recent concerns near Elkhart County is the spotted lanternfly. First found in the United States in 2014 in southeastern Pennsylvania, spotted lanternfly has been spreading rapidly across the nation. Infestations have been confirmed in Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Ohio. Dead spotted lanternflies were found in Michigan recently. If introduced, spotted lanternfly could seriously affect the region’s agriculture and natural resources. This insect damages more than 70 varieties of crops and plants including grapes, apples, hops, and hardwood trees.
Spotted lanternfly causes direct damage by sucking sap from host plants and secreting large amounts of a sugar-rich, sticky liquid called honeydew. This honeydew and the resulting black, sooty mold that grows on the liquid, can kill plants and foul surfaces. The honeydew often attracts other pests, particularly hornets, wasps, and ants, affecting outdoor recreation and complicating crop harvests.
Spotted lanternfly adults are roughly one inch long. Their folded wings are gray to brown with black spots. Open wings reveal a yellow and black abdomen and bright red hind wings with black spots transitioning to black and white bands at the edge. Egg masses resemble old chewing gum, with a gray, waxy, putty-like coating.
For more information about spotted lanternfly, I suggest visiting Penn State Extension’s extensive page on the subject: https://bit.ly/37M9IyK
— Jeff Burbrink, Extension Educator, Purdue Extension Elkhart County
For more articles out of Indiana, click here.