Category Archives: Exotic pests

Boozy beetle: the Camphor Shoot Borer






Every now and then entomologists get calls that border on the bizarre. Last week I received an email from a citizen in far east Texas. He was having problems with what he said were “insects boring into his riding lawn mower gas tank”.  Of course my first reaction was that insects don’t eat plastic, nor do they drink gasoline.  Why should they be boring into a gas tank?  But the caller had photographic proof.  Not only did he have pictures of the holes, he was able to pry about 15 of… Read More →




Emerald ash borer enters Texas






If you’re a Texan and haven’t heard about an insect called the emerald ash borer, that’s about to change.  The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive beetle that feeds almost exclusively on ash (Fraxinus spp.) and has been slowly spreading through the eastern and midwest states from Michigan where it was first discovered in 2002. On May 23 the Texas Forest Service, along with the U.S. Forest Service, announced that four EAB beetles had been discovered on a trap in Harrison County, TX along the Louisiana border.  Although… Read More →




Recognizing emerald ash borer damage






This summer my assistant spent the better part of her summer hanging and checking over 100 purple sticky traps to determine whether Texas has been invaded yet by the dreaded emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis.  The beetle has already been detected in neighboring states of Arkansas and Louisiana; but much to our relief, after thousands of miles of winding county roads and many hundreds of traps, neither she nor our colleagues in the Texas Forest Service or Sam Houston State University found a single EAB.  However, this beetle is elusive.  And… Read More →




Borer gets a little closer






What’s shiny and Godzilla green, easily fits on a penny, and has resulted in the death of tens of millions of trees over the past dozen years? If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you might guess the emerald ash borer (EAB).  Over the past few years my colleagues and I have been involved with a monitoring project designed to detect the first EAB entering north Texas.  During this time I’ve watched the beetles inch closer to Texas–moving from its initial point of invasion in Michigan throughout the Ohio River valley and… Read More →




Scale insect misery loves company






It’s probably true that misery loves company. For the past several years we gardeners in the Dallas area have sadly watched our beautiful crape myrtle trees succumb to a new insect pest.  The crape myrtle bark scale is a messy little critter that causes trunks to blacken and plants to drip sticky bug poop. True, it’s small consolation to know that the scale that invaded Texas has now spread to at least six other states and appears to be ready to follow crape myrtle in the U.S. wherever it is… Read More →




Crape myrtle bark scale reduces bloom






As the crape myrtle bark scale spreads throughout Texas, one of the first questions we hear is “will the scale kill my tree?” The answer appears to be “no”, at least not often.  To date we’ve not been able to show any crape myrtle tree death as a result of a bark scale infestation.  But like many sap-feeding scale insects, these little scales can stress and reduce the appearance of the trees, while producing a prodigious amount of sticky “honeydew” that can coat the leaves and anything under the tree… Read More →




Update on new scale pest of crape myrtle






Texans (and many other southerners) love their crape myrtles!  And why not?  It’s one of the few trees that bear colorful flower displays through much of the summer, come in a variety of stunning colors, is easy to grow, and until now has been relatively pest free.  Unfortunately, the pest-free reputation is changing with the advent of a new exotic scale pest. Several years ago I wrote about a new scale pest of crape myrtle.  At that time we speculated that it was a newly introduced species of… Read More →




A berry bad pest






As if we needed more insect pests!  Now there is a new pest of berries that is spreading rapidly around the U.S.  The spotted wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, is a native of Japan and was first discovered in California in 2008.  It has spread quickly to berry growing areas on the west and east coasts, as well as Canada, Michigan and the northeast.  It showed up in Colorado last year, and the first specimen in Texas was found by a faculty member in the entomology department at Texas… Read More →




What to do if you’re attacked by bees?






While honey bees are highly beneficial to man, they can also be dangerous.  If you don’t believe this, consider two Texas incidents this summer.  In June, a Waco area man was killed by honey bees while working on his tractor.  This past weekend a couple was severely stung and two of their miniature horses were killed following a bee attack at their Tarrant county home.  Both incidents illustrate how serious honey bee infestations can be. It’s not that bees are mean, in a human sense. But they do take exception… Read More →




Emerald ash borer discovered in Kansas






As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Texas has been conducting a survey for the past several years to look for the first signs of the highly destructive emerald ash borer.  Although we have beetle samples from this summer currently being evaluated by USDA/APHIS, we have so far seen no sign of the beetle in Texas.  The folks in Kansas, however, have not been so fortunate. The Kansas Department of Agriculture, working with the USDA, has just reported the first known case of EAB in the Kansas City,… Read More →