New England’s Most Invasive Insects

New England is known throughout the world for its diverse ecosystem that sets the scene for a picturesque landscape. From majestic evergreens to seasonal blooms, there is no end to the unique beauty that can be found throughout every community. However, it is important for residents to know that invasive insects abound throughout the region, and they can quickly destroy natural areas if their populations are allowed to increase. Here are the New England’s most invasive insects, watch out for them.

Emerald Ash Borer

emerald-ash-borerThe emerald ash borer is a non-native insect to the region that has been increasing in number over the past year. According to the University of New Hampshire, this invasive insect attacks ash trees and causes them to die within only three to five years. As its name suggests, the emerald ash borer is dark green and bores into the tree to feed on the tissues of the bark. Once they have infested a tree, their destruction will lead to canopy dieback starting on the top and working its way down. Due to the recent surge in their invasions, it is essential that suspected emerald ash borer infestations be reported so that a quarantine and removal procedures can be initiated.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Asian-longhorned-beetleThe Asian longhorned beetle is another invasive pest that threatens New England trees. However, these insects have been known to infest several different types of trees including maple, mountain-ash, willow and poplars. The Asian longhorned beetle can be identified by its black body with white spots, yet its most notable feature is the black and white-striped antennae which can be up to twice its body length. The damage caused by these insects begins when the female beetle lays her eggs and the resulting larvae begin to feed on the wood. Tunnels, sawdust-like frass at the base of the tree and a visual sighting of a beetle are all signs of an infestation.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

brown-marmorated-stink-bugThe brown marmorated stink bug can create a large amount of damage in orchards and gardens due to their diet which consists of legumes, fruits and vegetables. According to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the stink bug tends to flourish seasonally when they emerge from overwintering around April, and then they make another round of invasions in the fall as they look for a place to spend the winter. When left unchecked, the brown marmorated stink bug can be unsightly in homes and will eat newly grown garden produce.

Winter Moth

winter-mothEven though the winter moth has been discovered in Maine and Massachusetts, all New England states are warned to be on guard against this invasive insect. This insect feeds on the leaves of hardwood trees about early March when they begin to bore into the fruits of these trees. Starting out as larvea, once they Winter Moth become adults, they feed on leaves throughout the winter months and cause infestations that completely remove all of a tree’s foliage. In addition to this destruction, winter moths can ruin apple, cherry and blueberry crops.

European Fire Ant

European-Fire-AntWhile many invasive insects pose only a threat to the environment, the recent increase in European fire ant infestations now poses a risk to human health due to the severity of their stings. According to the University of Maine, many local homeowners have found infestations severe enough that they are unable to use their yards and surrounding areas without risking a painful bite. These ants also threaten the populations of other ant species. European fire ants have an appearance similar to other types of ants, and they set up residence in decaying logs and other types of debris. They can also be differentiated by their lack of mounds or typical tunneling systems used by other varieties of ants.

Preventing Invasive Insect Infestations

There are several ways to prevent invasive insects from taking over a garden or home. Prevention methods, such as seasonal inspections and repairs of cracks around the exterior of a home will help to keep them out of a person’s residence. In the lawn and garden, pests can be prevented by using natural pesticides, intentional spacing and by keeping close watch for signs of a possible infestation. If one is noted, however, it is often necessary to schedule professional pest services due to the rapid reproduction and destruction patterns associated with invasive insects.

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