Archive for the ‘Invasive Pests’ Category

Oak Wilt Striking Michigan Trees

There is a fungal disease that has made its way into Michigan and is taking out our oak trees. As if we needed another forest pest to worry about, oak wilt has made an appearance in several Michigan counties. This is causing mass clear-cuttings in portions of the state, including in state parks.

The reason? The only way to stop the spread is to cut down all infected trees, and in many cases any oak surrounding an infected tree.

Since it’s relatively new in Michigan, we have an opportunity to help stop the spread. Here are some tips we all can do to help:

  • Watch your trees closely. If something doesn’t look right, report it to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It may turn out to be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Don’t trim oak trees from April 15 until July 15, or even through the entire summer if you want to err on the safe side. Any injury can create a way for the fungus to get into the tree. This means intentional injuries like trimming, or accidental ones from lawnmowers, weed whips, and storm damage. If you accidentally nick the trunk of your oak trees doing yard work, seal it up with pruning sealer or tree paint.
  • And the last tip we’re going to give is please don’t move firewood. It is tempting to save money and inconvenience by bringing wood with you when you go camping, but this can cause problems by carrying forests pests long distances and bringing them to new areas. Oak wilt is no exception. The fungus spores can live in the bark of firewood and infect healthy trees at your destination. Please buy where you intend to burn!

A Warning for Great Lakes States: A disease called “Oak wilt” is striking Michigan Forests

Oak tree effected by Oak wilt.

By , Great Lakes Now

If you head to Northern Michigan this summer, you might see some disturbing landscapes across the shoreline and in other spots across the state: clear-cutting. In most cases, it’s not because a shopping development or a subdivision is about to be constructed. It’s because of a fast-moving and deadly fungus that takes aim at Oak trees and can kill them in less than four weeks. And the only solution to stop the spread of the disease is to kill the trees it infects.

It’s called “Oak wilt” disease. Great Lakes Now talked with Jenna Johnson who’s a forest technician with AmeriCorps at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Cadillac. She says Oak wilt was first discovered in Great Lakes states in the 1940’s. It has caused major damage in Midwestern States like Minnesota but has only recently made its way into Michigan. She says Roscommon, the Gaylord area, Missaukee County, and Kalkaska County are being particularly hard-hit right now.

Beetles spreading Oak wilt

 

Johnson says, “Oak wilt is a vascular disease. It makes the tree unable to absorb water. It starves the tree to death.” She says the tree starts to die the minute it’s infected, and starts dropping all its leaves. She says it strikes Red oaks, Pin oaks and some White oaks. It’s spread by sap-feeding beetles that take aim at freshly wounded trees. And once one Oak tree is infected, all other Oak trees in the area are in danger of being infected.

She says if the tree isn’t cut down and removed from the area – right into the roots- followed by what’s called “vibratory plowing” down at least 5 feet into the ground to destroy the fungus –   Oak wilt could sweep across the state. The DNR says if Oak wilt isn’t stopped by cutting down infected trees, it could continue to spread, possibly killing almost all the Red oaks in Michigan.

At least 21 states are dealing with the disease, but the majority of Oak wilt cases are being discovered in the Midwest.

The DNR says Oak wilt isn’t just spread through live trees. It’s also spread by firewood that still has its bark. That’s why the DNR wants to get the word out this summer that no one should cut any kind of Oak trees – including power companies – from April 15th to July 15th, and there’s a ban on cutting Oak trees for firewood during this time, too. Bill O’Neill, State Forester of Michigan and Chief of the Forestry Division of the DNR   tells Great Lakes Now if you are gathering or buying firewood, “use and buy your firewood locally – get it from the vicinity where you’re going to be using it.” 

For more information go to http://www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Firewood Awareness Month. Why do we need one?

Fall is here! That means that many will be travelling, looking for that perfect fall foliage that makes the covers of calendars everywhere. And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Michigan welcomes all who want to take a gander at her magnificent fall colors. We just ask that you do one thing.

Leave the wood at home.

This goes for everyone, both in-state and out-of-state travelers. It might seem harsh, or that it’s just another excuse to sell firewood, but there’s a good reason for it. Insects can hitch a ride in firewood, either as eggs, larvae, or even as adults depending on the time of year. Right now, a lot of insects are laying eggs that will overwinter and hatch next spring. By bringing your own firewood you may be unknowingly moving forest pests hundreds of miles to cause new devastation next year.

If we have learned anything from the destruction of the Emerald Ash Borer it is that prevention is key. We do not want a repeat of this kind of damage. So it becomes all of our responsibility to be part of the solution, instead of the problem.

By purchasing firewood where you intend to burn it, or even gathering it on site if it’s permitted, is one of the easiest things you can do to help stop the spread of unwanted insects and disease.

That is why this year, for the first time, the nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood program is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Hungry Pests initiative for Firewood Awareness Month. Learn more in the article below.

We all need to do our part to protect our trees.

 

As the Weather Cools, Your Firewood Choices Matter

Don't Move Firewood pests graphic

Wood boring insect pests can continue their development deep within cut wood. They can emerge from wood left to sit outside to infest new areas.

 

This October, the Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign and Hungry Pests, an initiative from APHIS, are partnering to present the first-ever Firewood Awareness Month. The cooler nights and quickly approaching fall season brings an increase in RV camping, hunting, and home heating. Firewood Awareness Month looks to raise public awareness about the potential danger of firewood movement as a pest and disease pathway at this high-risk time of year.

Tree-killing invasive insects and diseases can lurk both inside, and on the surface, of firewood. While these insects and diseases don’t travel far on their own, transporting firewood allows them to move hundreds of miles and start infestations in new places, explains APHIS Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissy.

Pest infestations can impact our forests by killing trees there as well as in our parks and communities. Infestations are also costly to control or eradicate.

Everyone’s firewood choices matter, says Leigh Greenwood, The Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign manager. When it comes to protecting our campsites, wildlife habitats, neighborhood trees, and other favorite places, we all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of forest pests. Firewood Awareness Month serves as the perfect opportunity to inform the public on the different ways they can help protect the places they love.

Firewood in bags

Firewood that has been heat treated is often sold bagged, boxed, or wrapped. Look for a state or federal seal to certify it was properly treated. Photo credit: L. Greenwood, Don’t Move Firewood campaign, The Nature Conservancy

 

This Firewood Awareness Month, everyone can help protect the places they love from the spread of damaging forest pests by making one of these three safe firewood choices:

  1. Buy firewood near where you’ll burn it
  2. Buy certified heat treated firewood (look for a state or federal seal)
  3. Gather firewood on site when permitted

Anyone who will travel from one location to another, including campers, anglers, hunters, and RV owners, should not carry firewood—unless it is heat-treated and certified—to their destination. This can spread forest pests and may also violate state and federal laws, depending on the region. Plan to gather firewood on site if permitted or purchase firewood near your camping destination.

People who use wood to heat their homes or cabins can help by harvesting firewood locally or by purchasing firewood from a reputable dealer who is in compliance with state or regional firewood regulations. Some operations may be unaware of quarantine and movement restrictions, resulting in the unintentional and illegal movement of tree-killing pests.

Tourists, too, can help protect the places they love against the spread of pests. As thousands of “leaf peeping” fall foliage enthusiasts travel to view the changing leaves around the country, they should purchase firewood locally, buy certified heat treated firewood, or gather on site if allowed.

Get state specific firewood regulations and recommendations at Dontmovefirewood.org/map. Visit www.DontMoveFirewood.org or www.HungryPests.com to learn how to help stop the spread of invasive pests and report signs of them to the proper authorities, and use #firewoodmonth to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Firewood

When buying firewood for home heating, use a reputable dealer in compliance with local regulations. Photo credit: L. Greenwood, Don’t Move Firewood campaign, The Nature Conservancy

The Stink Bugs Are Back

They’re brown, numerous, and annoying. And right now they’re trying to make their way into your homes. Brown marmorated stink bugs.

Every year people are plagued with these pests as they look for warm places to hide for the winter. Unfortunately for us, we’ve made lots of them with our obsession for cozy homes, insulated garages, even storage sheds and barns. All of these provide great protection for these insects during the harsh temperatures of winter.

If you find yourself infested, don’t panic. While irritating, they’re harmless. And there are ways to keep them out of your house.

The article below from Michigan State University Extension gives you a few tips and resources to help.

 

Brown marmorated stink bugs are moving into Michigan homes again

What they are, why stink bugs are entering houses, and what you can do about them.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a shield-shaped, plant-feeding bug native to Asia. It has distinctive banding on its antennae and around its abdomen. Photo: Jeff Wildonger, USDA-ARS-BIIR.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a shield-shaped, plant-feeding bug native to Asia. It has distinctive banding on its antennae and around its abdomen. Photo: Jeff Wildonger, USDA-ARS-BIIR.

It’s that time of year again when brown marmorated stink bugs invade structures humans create looking for a place to hunker down for winter. Since last fall when Michigan residents were asked to report brown marmorated stink bugs in their homes, we now know that brown marmorated stink bugs are well-established as a nuisance pest in homes in the southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

What are they doing?

Brown marmorated stink bugs are looking for a protected place to hibernate over winter. They will leave your house again in the spring – if they can find their way back out – to look for plants to feed on and lay their eggs outside.

What are they NOT doing?

They are NOT nesting, laying eggs or feeding on anything or anyone in your house. These are plant-feeding insects with straw-like mouthparts for drinking plant juices – they are harmless to humans and pets.

What do you need to do?

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Look for gaps around window air conditioners or holes in window screens and block them off – these are easy access points for brown marmorated stink bugs to enter houses.
  3. The easiest, non-toxic way to dispose of them is with a couple inches of soapy water in a bucket – the soap prevents them from escaping the water. Sweep them into the bucket and they will drown in the soapy water, which you can then dump outside. Or you can do the same with a Shop-Vac – add the soapy water to the canister before vacuuming them up with the Shop-Vac.
  4. Report how many you’ve seen at a given location using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network. If you have trouble entering the information on the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network website, leave a message for Julianna Wilson via email at jkwilson@msu.edu or by phone at 517-432-4766 with your name, address (or nearest crossroads), the date you saw them, and how many you have seen.

The map below shows where we have received reports to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network of brown marmorated stink bugs in the Lower Peninsula since Sept. 25, 2015.

Map of Michigan counties that have received brown marmorated stink bugs reports

Biology and other tips for managing them in your home: download the free Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB): Information for Michigan Residents tip sheet from Michigan State University Extension.

Prevent them from entering your home: see “Managing brown marmorated stink bugs in homes.”

Report sightings of brown marmorated stink bugs: see “Report sightings of brown marmorated stink bugs in your home or business.”

Visit MSU’s Brown Marmorated Stink Bug website for 2016 monitoring network reports and additional information.

Hope for the Ash Tree

Experts thought the ash tree was doomed. With the introduction of one tiny insect in 2002, its demise seemed inevitable. The Emerald Ash Borer specifically targets ash trees for their hosts. They lay their eggs under the bark and the larvae wreak havoc, chewing up the tree from the inside, before they emerge as adults and cause destruction to the leaves as they feed and reproduce, starting the cycle all over again.

In the wake of Dutch Elm Disease, many Michigan communities planted mostly ash to replace the dead elm trees, setting the stage. By planting mostly one species, many communities lost nearly all their trees once the beetle reached them. The insect simply flew from one tree to the next, spreading like wildfire. Any tree that was planted or naturally grew in infested areas was almost always attacked once it reached a decent size.

It seemed like a losing battle.

Yet, there may still be hope of having ash trees around.

Hope for ash

An adult ash borer within the wood tissue. Image: Gerald Wheeler

Ash borer leaves a destructive trail through wood tissue. Image: Gerald Wheeler

By Colleen Otte

Experts used to say the number of ash trees lost in Michigan was tens of millions.

Now they say hundreds of millions, according to Deb McCullough, a professor in Michigan State University’s entomology and forestry departments. Still, there’s hope for the ash’s survival.

“In a nutshell, what I found is that [ash] seems to be holding on quite well,” said Dan Kashian, who studies ash tree regeneration.

The mortality varies among species, but now the devastation has become an international epidemic, McCullough said. While some patches are worse than others, it’s hard to find a lot of live ash trees in Lower Michigan and much of the eastern and central Upper Peninsula.

The culprit is the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, an exotic Asian beetle discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. Adult beetles are metallic green and about 1/2-inch long. They hitched rides on ship and plane cargo originating from Asia and moving to Detroit.

“The longest history of the emerald ash borer in North America is right in the greater metro Detroit area,” McCullough said.

Kashian, an associate professor at Wayne State University, found himself in this prime location for assessing the plight of the ash.

“It’s been here longer than it’s been anywhere else, so it’s a good place to study what it’s going to look like, say, in Traverse City in 15 years or 10 years or something,” he said.

The three main ash species in Michigan are green, white and black ash. They grow in very different places, according to Kashian: black ash in swamps, green ash near rivers and white ash in the uplands.

The front of an merald ash borer head. Image: S. Ellis

Kashian is studying how the different species respond to the ash borer. So far, his team has only set up seed traps and other regeneration trackers in 17 pockets in southeastern Michigan that are almost entirely green ash.

For five years, the study quantified how many seeds fell and how many new seedlings took root.

“It looks awful because the big trees are all being killed, and in terms of it ever looking like it did before the emerald ash borer came through, it’s probably never going to happen,” Kashian said. “But the species does not – at least based on what I’ve seen – look like it’s going to disappear, which is what a lot of people were predicting.”

MSU and other leading agricultural researchers, as well as government and non-profit institutions, have created and now support the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network, a multinational effort to share the latest information about the emerald ash borer as it spreads.

The network reports that the insect is established in Windsor, Ontario, was found in Ohio in 2003, northern Indiana in 2004, northern Illinois and Maryland in 2006, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2007, Wisconsin, Missouri and Virginia in the summer of 2008, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky in the spring of 2009, Iowa in the spring of 2010, Tennessee in the summer of 2010, Connecticut, Kansas, and Massachusetts in the summer of 2012, New Hampshire in the spring of 2013, North Carolina and Georgia in the summer of 2013, Colorado in the fall of 2013, New Jersey in the spring of 2014, Arkansas in the summer of 2014, Louisiana in the winter of 2015.

“We will never see emerald ash borer densities at the same level that they were originally, because the carrying capacity of those systems has dropped hugely,” McCullough said. “When the big trees die, you’re not churning out nearly as many beetles, so the populations of the ash borer are going to remain lower for the foreseeable future. Whether they will stay low enough to give some of those young trees a chance to mature, we’ll have to see.”

Kashian said he wouldn’t go as far as to say the ash and the borer have reached an equilibrium.

“But we seem to be approaching some kind of balance with the bug at this population level and the trees hanging on,” he said.

The prevailing story of other studies is that the borer will eliminate ash in Michigan as it spreads. That’s because the studies were done in mixed forests where green ash were dying and different trees grew into the space, said Kashian.

In the pure stands of ash that Kashian studied, the dying green ash only made way for new ash seedlings.

“It’s very dependent on how much ash is there,” he said. “I think the more ash that’s there, the more likely it is to survive. A lot of people think intuitively the opposite – the conventional wisdom is that if it’s a pure stand, the bugs will just go crazy and kill everything.”

In northern Michigan, big stands of white ash are a concern. Though Kashian’s team hasn’t studied white ash yet, he suspects a similar phenomenon in which the trees growing in mixed forests won’t fare as well as those in pure stands.

A parasitic wasp injects its egg in the egg of an emerald ash borer where it will hatch, grow and kill the host egg. Image: Jian Duan

While it’s still early to tell, Kashian said there is some indication that where parasitic wasps were released to control the ashborers, larger ashes survived and more of them regenerated.

It might not be ideal to release a nonnative species, he said, but if we want to maintain nice, big ash trees, it’s something we need to do.

“The most well-funded programs aren’t even talking about stopping the emerald ash borer, they’re talking about slowing it,” Kashian said. “Whether or not (bio control) is cheap is kind of a moot point because there’s not really any other choice.”

For the eight-plus billion ash trees in the forest in the U.S., it’s hard to justify treating with an insecticide, McCullough said.

“It’s just not economically or environmentally appropriate,” she said. “That means you have to look for other options, and right now we don’t have much else other than bio control.”

The Emerald Ash Borer Biological Control Production Facility in Brighton, Michigan, rears Asian wasps that fight the borer.

“We work with the federal entities and the state entities to identify infested sites within each individual state,” said Ben Slager, the manager of the lab facility.

The borer has been identified in 27 states, and the lab has three more to distribute to: Georgia, Texas and Nebraska, Slager said. The tiny, wasp-like parasitoids were first released in Michigan in 2007, and have been released in all eight of the Great Lakes states.

“One of the goals for our agency is to get parasitoids into every infested county,” he said. “Last year, (the lab) put out 1.2 million, the year before that it was 750,000 and we’ve been steadily increasing through the years.”

The Bio Control Production Facility releases three different species of the wasps and is in the process of introducing a fourth. Its production of the fourth species has been ongoing since last fall, Slager said, but while they are doing scheduled releases this season, it’s only on a limited basis since they are still getting their rearing methods and procedures down.

The benefit of the new species is that it can lay eggs in trees with thicker bark because it has a longer ovipositor.

Be Careful with Water Gardens

You see them all the time, people adding ponds and other water features to their yards or gardens. Done correctly, water gardens are a great way to attract wildlife, create habitat, and add beauty to your property.

Yet there should be caution to this tale. Your choice of plants and animals when planning these features is key. If you’re not careful, your innocent plant purchase might just take over your neighboring lake or river. Please take the proper precautions when choosing plants and animals and when in doubt, choosing native species is always the safest bet.

Learn more about keeping non-native aquatic plants and animals contained in the article below. There’s also some great information in it about the new RIPPLE project, an education program created by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Is your water garden having a RIPPLE effect on Michigan’s waterways?

While water gardens add beauty to backyards, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with aquatic invasive species and to prevent escape.

Build water gardens away from other waterbodies to prevent escape of non-native animals and plants during flooding events. Photo credit: Paige Filice

Build water gardens away from other waterbodies to prevent escape of non-native animals and plants during flooding events. Photo credit: Paige Filice

Wildlife habitat, soothing sounds and scenic beauty are just a few of the benefits of having a backyard pond. Exotic fish such as koi can be attractive additions to your pond, and non-native ornamental plants such as water hyacinth can add beauty. But if let loose, these species can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on Michigan’s lakes and streams. Water garden fish and plants are commonly selected for their hardiness and rapid growth, but these characteristics also contribute to the species’ ability to become destructive and invasive if they escape.

Invasive water garden plants and fish can enter Michigan’s lakes and streams a variety of ways. One of the most common practices is the intentional release of unwanted pets, such as koi and goldfish. This happens most often during the breeding season when fish reproduce rapidly and in the fall when homeowners are preparing their water gardens for winter weather. While releasing unwanted fish and plants into natural waterbodies may seem humane, the consequences to the environment can be devastating. More environmentally friendly alternatives include giving to or trading with another hobbyist, environmental learning center, aquarium or zoo. Some local pet stores will take back unwanted fish and plants. Invasive fish and plants can also escape water gardens during heavy rain events if the pond overflows, so the best location for a backyard pond is well away from other waters.

Aquatic Species of Concern

One common water garden plant of particular concern is water hyacinth. While beautiful with light purple flowers and glossy leaves, it can become very invasive and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list of 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species. It can form dense mats on the surface of the water, impeding boat traffic, clogging waterways and interfering with wildlife. Due to its free-floating nature, water hyacinth prevents sunlight from penetrating the water, reducing the growth of native submersed aquatic plants, which many aquatic organisms rely on for shelter and food. Water hyacinth was first introduced to the United States in the late 1800s from South America and has since invaded much of the southern United States. It has been found in southeastern Michigan, including Lake Erie Metropark, where it has persisted for years even though it was commonly believed to be unable to survive Michigan’s winter temperatures. When choosing plants and fish for your backyard pond, consider asking your local retailer for native species. There are many varieties of native aquatic plants that can add great beauty to backyard ponds without as many risks.

Tips to reduce the risk of invasion

Follow the RIPPLE: Reduce Invasive Pet and PLant Escapes program guidelines to prevent escapes. If you have water hyacinth, or any other potentially invasive plant or fish in your pond, and would like to get rid of it, remember to never release it into waterways. It is also important to not compost it, as the seeds can still be viable.

  • Inspect and rinse any new plants to rid them of seeds, plant fragments, snails and fish.
  • Build water gardens well away from other waters.
  • Seal aquatic plants for disposal in a plastic bag in the trash.
  • Give or trade unwanted fish or plants with another hobbyist, environmental learning center, aquarium or zoo.
  • Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance on humane disposal of animals.

The State of Michigan has laws restricting and prohibiting the sale of some organisms, including plants and fish in the water garden industry. However, it does not include all potentially harmful invasive species such as water hyacinth.

Michigan State University Extension teamed up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to create the RIPPLE education campaign. It is used to educate Michigan retailers and residents about proper inspection and disposal techniques to keep non-native plants and animals contained and out of Michigan’s lakes and streams. To learn more about invasive species and to report sightings in the wild, visit www.misin.msu.edu.

What to Do With Gypsy Moths?

Gypsy moths have been a plague in Michigan for a long time now and likely will be for years to come. That’s the problem with invasive exotic pests, once they’re established in an area they are difficult if not impossible to remove. While we have past the point to prevent a hatch of new ones this year (that happens in May), there are things you can do to control them.

The article below was one I wrote in 2014 for our annual newsletter. It lists several resources that may prove useful if you find yourself battling voracious gypsy moth caterpillars this summer.

 

Gypsy Moth: A New Look at an Old Enemy

By: Jennifer Hunnell, Michigan Arbor Day Alliance

Invasive species have been making news headlines across the country. People want to know what they are, where they are, if they pose a threat to their community, and what they can do about them if they find one.

The new ones are what usually capture everyone’s attention; Asian Carp, Asian Long-Horned Beetle, and Giant Hogweed just to name a few. Emerald Ash Borer makes this list as well. While not exactly new, the fight continues as the Emerald Ash Borer is still spreading into the western states. However, we can’t forget about the invaders that are already established, ones that may have fallen off our collective radar because they have been around so long they have become commonplace. The fact remains they’re still invasive, they’re still a problem, and we need to stay proactive about doing our part to control them.

Gypsy moth is a good example. This Eurasian moth has been a long-standing problem in Michigan. They were introduced to the United States in Massachusetts in 1869 and made it to Michigan by 1954. Since female moths don’t fly, their spread across the country has been largely attributed to human transportation of eggs or caterpillars. And while there are several natural factors for population control, including diseases, parasites, and predators, we still get the occasional population boom where they seem to be everywhere. The caterpillars have a voracious appetite and can infest a wide range of broad-leaf trees, but favors oak and aspen. Defoliation by the caterpillars can cause extensive damage and even death of the infested tree if it is old or weakened by disease or stress.

And while eradication of the gypsy moth is a dream of the past, there are some things you can do to control them on your own property.

  • Properly Water and Fertilize – This is your first line of defense. Keeping an eye on your trees and shrubs, making sure they are healthy, will reduce the pests attracted to them and reduce the amount of damage done if they are attacked.
  • Sanitation – Keep your yard as clean as possible. Remove dead branches, stumps, etc. where the adult moths may lay egg masses. Watch out for eggs transported on firewood or recreational vehicles (boats, trailers, RV’s, etc.)
  • Destroy Egg Masses – Gypsy moth egg masses are around for nearly nine months (August – May). Seeking out and destroying egg masses each year will reduce populations.
  • Tree Barriers – Various bands around tree trunks can help prevent caterpillar movement into and out of the tree canopy. Some act as traps (sticky), some as deterrents (slippery). Cloth hiding bands can also be made. These bands serve as hiding places for the caterpillars during the day so you can easily find them.

For more information about gypsy moths or other invasive species, check out these resources:

Save the Salamanders

By Jennifer Hunnell, Michigan Arbor Day Alliance

Salamanders are not one of those animals that get headline grabbing attention. They’re small, slimy, and rarely seen unless you go looking for them. Yet salamanders play a very important role in our forests. They eat anything smaller than they are: insects, grubs, worms, etc. while also serving as an important food source for other animals like birds, fish, reptiles, and small mammals. Salamanders also keep our forests healthy by preventing the grubs and insects from eating all the fallen leaves. Leaves store carbon, but when they break down they release that carbon into the air, contributing to greenhouse gases. By eating the insects, the salamanders are helping keep the leaf layer in forests intact. Leaves also protect the soil and provide habitat for small animals (like salamanders).

About 50% of the salamander species in the world are found in North America. That’s huge!

So what’s the big deal about salamanders right now?

There’s a fungus from Asia that has been found in European salamanders that proves to be deadly to most species. Because Asian salamanders are pretty to look at and brightly colored they are often imported into other countries as pets. That’s how they suspect it got to Europe.

So what this means for us in the U.S. is that we need to be on the lookout at pet stores. Make sure that if you want to purchase a slimy friend of your own that you’re dealing with someone reputable that is not importing their animals (there are actually import bans on several species of salamanders right now because of this disease). Like any other non-native disease, it’s easier to prevent it from getting here in the first place than it is to deal with it afterward. We need to protect our salamanders, just imagine what our forests might look like without them.

Below is a good video that explains why this fungal disease (called Bsal) is so deadly to our North American salamanders and why salamanders are so important.

And if you want to find out more, there is a great interview with an Associate Professor of Biology from the University of Maryland in this article from the Society of Conservation Biology.

salamander video