Invasive pests and plant diseases cause millions of dollars of damage to our food crops and landscape plants each year. Efforts of USDA APHIS, Customs and Border Patrol, and other inspections find and destroy many unwanted invasive or exotic pests, however, some do become established and cause problems for U.S. agriculture. Pests that are located in one area of the country may be spread to other regions by moving firewood or shipping plants or plant products. Home gardeners may be the first ones to see new pests.
One new insect pest is the spotted lanternfly, which may attack grapes, apples, tree of heaven (Ailanthus), and other hosts. Found recently in Berks County Pennsylvania, the inch long, black, red, and white insect is a plant hopper and a potentially harmful plant pest, but is not harmful to people. The spotted lanternfly is native to China, India, Japan and Vietnam, but has been an invasive species in Korea, where it has attacked 25 plant species which also grow in the United States. In the U.S. it has the potential to impact grape, fruit tree and logging industries. This time of year, look for grey egg masses on trees such as Ailanthus. Egg masses may look similar to chewing gum that has been smeared on a tree trunk or stone wall. Please take pictures and collect samples and report any suspect finds to your local Cooperative Extension office or Delaware Department of Agriculture.
This time of year, people bring firewood into homes and insects may emerge from the wood. Firewood should not be moved from state to state, due to the possibility of moving invasive insects. Unknown insects should be collected and sent to your local Cooperative Extension office or Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Plant diseases can also be spread from one area of the country to another. Home gardeners should be very careful, especially when ordering plants such as rhododendrons from home hobbyist growers. Ask whether plants have been inspected for diseases.
12/2/2014 NFG BAK