Category Archives: Exotic pests

Emerald ash borer in Denton

  When Denton urban forester Haywood Morgan moved to Texas from Milwaukee, Wisconsin six years ago he thought he was leaving the devastating emerald ash borer behind.  Instead the ash borer found him again. Morgan became reacquainted with EAB this month during a trip to look at some sick ash trees along a Denton, Texas street. After inspecting ash borer-like damage on the 11 year old ash, his experienced eye caught a glimpse of shiny green.  A quick grab and he had it–what appears to be the first… Read More →

Giant hornets genuinely frightening

The Asian giant hornet has recently been spotted close to the Canadian border in Washington state. Photo courtesy Washington State Department of Agriculture.   Last year’s quiet arrival of a foreign wasp known as the Asian giant hornet is no longer a secret outside of Washington state.  Within the past few days, all the major TV networks have broadcast stories of the arrival of the wasp to the Pacific Northwest.  Known to entomologists as Vespa mandarinia, it has been named by the press the ‘murder hornet’. It’s hard… Read More →

Kudzu bug in Texas

Last week Texas became the fourteenth state with verified populations of kudzu bug.  An alert county Extension agent, Kim Benton, reported kudzu bugs from a home garden in Rusk, TX, south of Tyler. The bugs were clustered on eggplant and other vegetables before being transplanted into the garden. The kudzu bug saga in the U.S. began in October 2009 when millions of small, pill-like bugs startled homeowners across nine counties in northeast Georgia. The never-before-seen insects covered the sides of homes by the thousands, and concerned citizens began… Read More →

A prickly situation

Prickly pear cactus has its detractors.  Long hated for its long spines with a bite, and its clusters of barbed spines (glochids) that are heck to remove, it has been cursed, hacked, burned and sprayed. But prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) is also used by a variety of  wildlife and cattle, and is prized as a part of the Mexican-American diet.  There is even a small industry devoted to rearing insects, called cochineal scale, that feed exclusively on prickly pear (these scales produce a vivid red dye, called cochineal… Read More →

Good Sams discover exotic borer in Tarrant County

Last summer Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist, Sam Kieschnick, was going through pictures on iNaturalist and saw a picture of an insect taken by someone he knew. It was a shot of a shiny green beetle that 10-year-old nature enthusiast, Sam Hunt, had snapped in his own driveway near Eagle Mountain Lake in west Tarrant County. Something about the picture bothered biologist Sam, so he forwarded it to colleagues who were experts in a group of insects called buprestid beetles. The expert consensus seemed to be that 10-year-old… Read More →

Emerald ash borer makes a move

Ever since the dreaded emerald ash borer (EAB) showed up in Arkansas and Louisiana, tree lovers have braced themselves for its inevitable arrival in Texas.  Then, in May 2016, the insect was discovered in a single surveillance trap near Caddo Lake in Harrison County in east Texas.  In 2017 all was quiet, with no officially reported sightings; but this summer the beetle has been found in possibly three new counties. What is EAB? The EAB is a small but powerful beetle pest–an enemy of ash trees. Adult beetles… Read More →

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 →