Invasive Pests in Our Own Backyard; Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Emerald Ash Borer & More
Invasive pests are finding their way into the Tri State area and have created some very real ecological and environmental problems. On top of the problem with invasive insects, there is also the introduction of new or invasive diseases that these insects are capable of spreading.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
The most obvious invader in our area has been the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, an insect native to Asia. This insect was first identified in the Allentown area in 1998 and has established a strong presence in our area. It is believed that these insects entered the country in shipping containers. They are physically distinctive due to the shield shape on their backs which give them a prehistoric look and the distinctive “stink” occurs when they are crushed. We mostly know them as pests that invade homes and climb drapes, walls, and ceilings. Mostly, we see them during the Fall when they are moving in to look for overwintering spots in wall and attic voids to hibernate for winter. Stinkbugs in nature prefer to nest under the loose bark of trees and our homes look like that to the insects. In late winter, when we start to get some thawing and warmer weather, stink bugs come out of hibernation and they move towards the warm interiors of our homes. They don’t bite or do damage inside, but these insects can invade children’s bedrooms or other sensitive areas of the home where they are not welcome. Stink bugs also hit us in the pocketbook as well. The US Department of Agriculture has determined that the Stink Bug is the number one agricultural pest in the US for the last 100 years. Stink bugs decimate small fruit and produce by boring into the food to suck out plant juices (their natural food source). This boring leaves a spot on the fruit and produce that greatly reduces the value of the produce to the grower. This all leads to higher costs for local produce production and for the consumer. Treatment for stink bugs is usually done in the fall around the beginning of October. Exterior applications of pesticides around possible entry points will prevent stink bugs that enter the voids of the home from emerging in late fall. Some treatments to attics will also be done if the attic area is accessible.
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
While Stink Bugs interfere with our lives inside our homes other insects do so by damaging the environment around our communities. Emerald Ash Borer is systematically destroying native ash trees in the area and this can impact landscaping costs with dead tree removal and planting of new tree stock to replace the unsightly dead trees. These insects are also from Asia, and they entered the US in 2002 in Michigan, probably on wooden pallets used for shipping goods. Emerald ash borer gets its name from the emerald green color of its exoskeleton. Emerald ash borer damages ash trees by boring through the bark and the larvae feeds on and destroys the cambium layer directly under the exterior bark of the tree. It is this cambium layer where the nutrients that the trees need to live move from the soil to the upper reaches of the tree. The larvae make a characteristic “S” channel in the cambium that destroys the trees ability to move nutrients to the entire tree. The trees then get weak and the tree canopy begins to thin out and die. These insects can enter communities from adjoining properties that have ash trees, or they can be transported in firewood. Pennsylvania and other states now have quarantines in effect for firewood transport over state lines to help control the spread of these pests. There are some treatments for these insects such as drilling into the base of the tree or applying approved pesticides to the trees themselves. An arborist will be able to determine the best treatment for the environmental situation in your community.
Spotted Lantern Fly
The latest culprit to infest our area is the Spotted Lantern Fly. This insect was first noticed in eastern Berks county in 2014 and is another insect that has found it’s way into the US from Asia. There are also quarantines in counties around where the insects are originally found. This pest also affects communities since it favors hardwood, stone fruit trees and pine trees as well. SLF damages trees by boring into the tree to extract saps juices. They leave an open wound on the tree that allows the tree to be infested with fungi, molds, and other arboreal diseases. Heavily infested trees can be stressed to the point where they wither and die. Ongoing research is being done to determine the best methods to combat this new threatening invader.
Asian Tiger Mosquito
The Asian Tiger Mosquito is another unwelcome arrival in our area and it arrived in shipments of ornamental bamboo (imported ornamental bamboo itself has become an invasive species!). What makes this mosquito a problem is that it is mosquito that feeds during the day, so your residents may be bothered by this mosquito during daytime use at the community pool. Our native species of mosquitoes are generally dusk and dawn feeders. This mosquito is a very efficient vector for many viral diseases that affect humans, pets and horses. Diseases they have been known to carry include many varieties of encephalitis and they are suspected of being a vector for West Nile Virus and Zika virus. Control of the Asian Tiger is achieved by using the same control methods used for all mosquitoes such as controlling the locations where they can breed. Pest Control Technicians, Inc have inspected many communities for evaluations of mosquito breeding over the years and we find that there are a few locations that are the preferred breeding locations for these mosquitoes. Parking lot or roadway storm sewer inlets are a big problem. These storm sewer inlets have sumps in the bottom that allow leaves and other debris to settle below the outflow pipe into the sump to allow for water flow to the out pipe. These sumps retain water even when there has not been rain for a period of time. The sumps are below ground level, and out of sunlight which slow water evaporation. Rain gutters are another location that are preferred by mosquitos for breeding. Incorrect pitch to a gutter, and tree leaf clogs hold rainwater in these gutters and create an ideal location for mosquito breeding. All of these locations can be cleaned and treated to prevent mosquito infestation using products such as insect growth regulators and bacteria that attack the mosquito larvae and kill them before they become biting adults.
At Pest Control Technicians Inc., we offer a variety of services to help protect your home from pests and wildlife damage. To learn more about the various services we offer, please click through the list below.
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