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What Are the Invasive Species I Need to Look For?

By AK Timber in Tree Care

Pests – we all have them in our yards and we all know that some of them aren’t great and some of them actually do a lot of good. Unfortunately, many people try to eradicate invasive species on their own, which often does more damage than it does good. You may try to use caustic substances or DIY methods that will just aggravate the invasive pests instead of eliminating them – and then you might have an even bigger problem on your hands.

But what are the invasive species you need to look out for in your yard? Here are the most common in our area:

4. Hornets

  • Can live in or around trees
  • Tend to move in spring months
  • Can grow to 300+ colony size

Hornets, especially those of the European variety, have been extremely prevalent throughout the United States for over 150 years, according to the Penn State Department of Agriculture. Not only are these pests annoying, they are dangerous for those who have children or pets. Their sting is quite painful and can send people into shock with the pain. Even worse, they have a tendency to swarm if they are disturbed.

Signs of a hornet infestation include seeing them flying around, spotting the nest (typically tucked back into a cavity of some sort), and sometimes you may see debris left over from the hornets. You are more likely to get hornets in dead trees that have hollow portions or in stumps.

If you have a hornet nest in your tree or property at all, it is best to let it sit and contact professionals who can help you with removal. There are ways to eliminate the nest promptly and safely, but most people who aren’t professionals might need help.

3. Tomato Hornworm

  • Can be controlled by handpicking
  • Destroys tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant, and tobacco plants
  • Often spotted in midsummer

A particularly annoying pest for those that like to grow their own vegetables, tomato hornworms can be a problem for trees and other greenery as well – they don’t discriminate, especially in the height of growing season.

Planet Natural offers some advice on how to differentiate them from some other species: “Likely to be the largest caterpillars you’ll see in the vegetable garden, tomato hornworms (3-4 inches long), are green with seven diagonal white strips and a black or red horn projecting from the rear. Adults are large (4-5 inch wingspan), heavy-bodied moths. They are gray or brown in color with white zigzags on the rear wings and orange or brownish spots on the body. Also called a sphinx or hawk moth, they fly quickly and are able to hover like a hummingbird.”

You can also look for their droppings along the leaves of the tree. If you think they are there, you can spray a little bit of water onto the area and wait – they will start to move around quite quickly as they do not like water. In these cases, where there aren’t too many, you can easily solve the problem by handpicking them off of the trees and greenery. To prevent the tomato hornworm from coming into your yard, you can till the soil in the fall and/or winter to bring the pupae to the surface.

2. Azalea Lace Bug

  • One of the newest pests
  • Found on evergreen azalea plants, mountain laurels, and rhododendrons
  • Introducing spiders can help

Another pest that we need to worry about is the Azalea Lace Bug, also known as Evergreen Azalea Lace Bug. These bugs can be difficult to spot until it is too late, which is why people need to be vigilant about inspecting their plants and trees. According to Oregon State, you need to look for the eggs that are laid in the midrib on the underside of leaves and away from the sunlight – something that makes them more difficult to spot. As they age, they get darker and it becomes much easier to spot them.

More often, people spot them when they start to notice the damage on their trees and shrubs. They see that the leaves are turning white and curling up towards the edges.

To eliminate them, some people will introduce azalea plant bug, tree crickets, earwigs, green lacewings, minute pirate bugs, and/or spiders to their gardens so that they naturally eliminate them. Of course, there are ways to eliminate them with more forceful means as well.

1. Corn Earworm

  • Can be devastating
  • Found all over the United States
  • Lifecycle is less than 30 days

Why fear the corn earworm? The University of Florida explains: “Corn earworm is considered by some to be the most costly crop pest in North America. It is more damaging in areas where it successfully overwinters, however, because in northern areas it may arrive too late to inflict extensive damage. It often attacks valuable crops, and the harvested portion of the crop. Thus, larvae often are found associated with such plant structures as blossoms, buds, and fruits. When feeding on lettuce, larvae may burrow into the head. On corn, its most common host, young larvae tend to feed on silks initially, and interfere with pollination, but eventually they usually gain access to the kernels.”

If you see this bug on anything, whether it is a porch swing or a plant, you should try to kill it. Sadly, the only other effective ways to eliminate it require a professional to use highly damaging chemicals that make your yard unsafe for pets and children for some time. The best thing to do is kill them and hope that the infestation doesn’t get too bad.

Contact AK Timber Services for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down to watering. Of course, we can also help you to eliminate pests from your trees, shrubs, plants, and property. Call us today at (360) 635-1076 for all of your tree care needs – we offer free estimates.

Header photo courtesy of US Dept. of Agriculture on Flickr!