Exotic Forest Pests

If you have been out on Blandford Nature Center’s trails recently youfunnel trap may have noticed these odd contraptions hanging around. These strange devices serve to assist Kyle Redilla and James Weiferich from Michigan State University’s forest entomology lab conduct a forest insect survey. In addition they are trapping the Emerald ash borers.

The smallerwing trapr traps you might see – referred to as wing traps – are designed for catching defoliating moths, some which are similar to gypsy moth, the notorious defoliator of Oak trees. “Little brown moths” is a fairly accurate depiction.

So now that you know their purpose at Blandford, continue reading to find out further details about the study.

Cooperative Risk Analysis and Detection Surveys in Michigan

Michigan is at exceptional risk for the introduction and adverse consequences of invasive forest pests, thanks to the extensive forest resources found across the state, combined with high-risk pathways for exotic pest invasion. As a major manufacturing center, a wide variety of products are shipped into Michigan from around the globe. These products are often transported with wood crating or pallets, which can harbor a variety of wood-boring beetles and other pests. Michigan also boasts the 5th largest nursery industry in the United States. Live plant material, known to be a major pathway for exotic pest movement, is shipped into Michigan nurseries from other states, and in some cases, other countries. Outdoor recreation is another major industry in Michigan. State-owned campgrounds attract 22 million visitors annually, including approximately 6 million people who reside in other states. Potential introduction of exotic forest pests in firewood remains an ongoing concern. Recent estimates have shown that exotic forest insects, particularly insects that feed under the bark of trees in forests and landscapes, cost households and municipal governments in the U.S. at least $2.5 billion per year.

Why is the Exotic Forest Pest Survey important?
Early detection of potentially damaging, exotic forest pests can facilitate efforts to eradicate, contain or manage populations of potentially invasive organisms. Early detection is also critical for preventing additional introductions of exotic pests. The risk factors outlined above, along with economically important plant-based industries, and the extensive forest resource, make it clear that exotic pests, particularly wood-boring insects, represent a serious and ongoing risk to the state.

Our primary objective is to survey sites that may be at relatively high risk of exotic forest pest introduction and establishment. We will use a varilong beetleety of traps baited with artificial lures designed to attract and capture exotic longhorned beetles (e.g., Asian longhorned beetle), bark beetles (e.g., walnut twig beetle) and other defoliators (e.g., Lymantria monacha moths). Insect samples collected from traps will be sorted, screened and identified by trained entomologists. If any suspect pests of significance are captured, specimens will be forwarded to federal regulatory officials for confirmation.

Who is involved in the Cooperative Exotic Forest Pest Survey?
Scientists from Michigan State University (MSU) are leading the survey. Entomologists from the USDA Forest Service, invasive pest managers from the MI Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and forest health specialists from the MI Dept. of Natural Resources, are also collaborating on this effort.

When will the survey take place?
We will begin setting traps in sites in southern lower Michigan in May, then work our way north. Traps will be checked at 2 to 3 week intervals during the summer to collect insects and to replace lures when needed. Trapping will continue through August or September.

How were the trapping sites selected?
We developed risk maps for Michigan using GIS technology and several databases. Variables used for  the risk maps included forest cover type, imported commodities (amount, type and origin), the zip codes of state park visitors, and locations of sawmills, campgrounds, railroads and highways. Spatial and point data were overlaid to identify sites at relatively high risk for specific forest pests. For example, a state park surrounded by maple-dominated forest would be considered a high risk site if the park attracts visitors from areas where Asian longhorned beetle populations are present. We identified approximately 50 sites across Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas for trapping. Some sites could get an array of up to 12 different traps while other sites will get a single trap.