Thursday, April 30, 2015

First sighting of lionfish in Brazil

On the heels of another article which discussed the possibility of multiple introductions of lionfish to the Caribbean, an article was published discussing the implication of the first encounter of a lionfish off the Brazilian coast was spotted May 2014.  The lionfish was found by recreational divers and they alerted local authorities, which underscores the need to educate the public about invasive species concerns.  At a reproduction rate of more than two million eggs per year and no natural predators, invading lionfish are seemingly unstoppable.  They are of particular concern near reefs, which are already vulnerable to habitat destruction and pollution, where they can quickly reduce populations of native fish.  When the Brazilian lionfish was captured and the stomach contents analyzed, that one fish had 15 of the critically endangered social wrasse (Halichoeres socialis) and it was only half of the contents of the stomach.

lionfish (Pterois volitans) by U.S. Geological Survey Archive, U.S. Geological Survey,
If you happen to catch or see lionfish while fishing, diving, or otherwise recreating be sure to let local authorities know.

If you want to report a lionfish sighting or capture: EDDMapS or one of the BugwoodApps
The original article: First invasive lionfish in Brazil: Urgent control measures needed to protect coral reefs
Article on lionfish introductions: Genetics provides new clues about lionfish invasion
For more images: Pterois volitans
BugwoodWiki: Pterois volitans

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

So, where do Burmese pythons hang out?

While Burmese pythons (Python molurus ssp. bivittatus) are well established in the Everglades, there really hasn't been much data on where they are within it.  USGS researchers caught 19 pythons, impalnted them with a radio transmitters and GPS tags, and released them close to their original capture location.  The snakes were tracked for 5,119 days.

Burmese python (Python molurus ssp. bivittatus) by Lori Oberhofer, National Park Service,

Unexpectedly, the pythons were found to have a large home range, roughly 22 square kilometers (8.5 sq mi) but home ranges of the snakes can overlap in some habitat-use areas.  The pythons were most concentrated in slough and coastal habitats and the snakes tended to move the most during dry conditions.  Tree islands, areas of patchy woody vegetation within a freshwater wetland, were especially frequented by the pythons, potentially due to the opportunity to prey upon the small mammals and birds that frequent them and the shaded, structured habitat they provide.  To date, tree islands haven't been extensively searched due to their thick vegetation and rough terrain, but with this new data, it certainly suggested.

Images of Burmese pythons: Python molurus ssp. bivittatus
Map of Burmese sightings: Burmese pythons on EDDMapS

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

One European Grapevine Moth in all of California

European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) has plagued California vineyards since it was discovered  in 2009.  It can have multiple generations in a year, and as such can spread very quickly.  In 2010, more than 100,000 moths were trapped and it was found in 11 counties in California.  USDA-APHIS, California Department of Food and Agriculture, county departments of agriculture, University of California Cooperative Extension, and growers partnered together to develop and implement a detection and eradication program.  This program has helped to protect the $5.7 billion fruit crop industry in California.  As of the 2014 survey, only one moth was found and more than 80% of quarantined acres have been declared moth free.

grape berry moth (Lobesia botrana) by Todd M. Gilligan and Marc E. Epstein, CSU,
For the full article: From Over 100,000 to 1: Partners Band Together to Beat the European Grapevine Moth
Images: Lobesia botrana
BugoodWiki Article: Lobesia botrana

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What is going on for Earth Day?

Do you know what the history of Earth Day is?  Find out on Earth Day: Facts & History

Want to know what is going on in your area?  Earth Day Events or Earth Day 2015

Did you know that one way that farmers protect the environment is through conservation tillage and cover crops?  By reducing the amount of tillage and planting cover crops when the field is fallow, the top soil is protected from erosion.  Some farmers will even leave the cover crop stubble or flatten the cover crop and plant into small strips, which can reduce soil erosion and the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers.

Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) by Steve L. Brown, University of Georgia,

To learn more about cover crops and conservation tillage programs: Cover Crops for Conservation Tillage Systems

A great video showing the soil differences between conventional tillage and no-till by University of Wisconsin: Long-Term Conventional and No-tillage Systems Compared

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Zebra Mussel Infestation Successfully Treated; No Mussels Found in Christmas Lake, MN

Like with any invasive infestation, early detection gives the opportunity for an effective control plan and potential eradication.  Current efforts for the invasive zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) have focused on prevention of the spread, as there haven't been breakthroughs for a prescription control plan yet.

zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) by Michael Massimi, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program,

After discovering a small, isolated population in Christmas Lake, MN, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources implemented a three step plan to rid the lake of the mussels.  The first step was to use Zequanox, a derivative of a bacteria that is selective for zebra and quagga mussels.  The Zequanox was applied in September and then in October and November, EarthTec QZ, a liquid copper treatment labeled for zebra and quagga mussels, was applied.  Finally, in December, 1,000 pounds of potash (potassium chloride) was applied under the ice near the public boat access.  Use of this treatment plan, specifically the EarthTec and potash, required special emergency permission due to the treatment being off-label.

As of April 13, no zebra mussels were found in Christmas Lake.  Beginning in May, MN DNR and Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) will scout the lake and shoreline for zebra mussels and will also place zebra mussel samplers at public boat access areas and on participating homeowner's docks.  It will still be years of negative surveys before that zebra mussel population can be declared eliminated.

For the press release: Divers confirm effective treatment of Christmas Lake zebra mussels

Monday, April 20, 2015

New pine beetle discovered in Central America: Mesoamerican pine beetle

Called the Mesoamerican pine beetle (Dendroctonus mesoamericanus), it is in the same genus as southern pine beetle, a destructive bark beetle that attacks several species of pine.  After suspecting the existence of a new species of bark beetle in 2002, subsequent pheromone and body wax chemistry definitively proved the new species.  In fact, the Mesoamerican pine beetle don't response to pheromone traps baited for southern pine beetle.

southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) by Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552,

The Mesoamerican pine beetle looks very similar to the southern pine beetle, but, in addition to the chemical differences, the Mesoamerican pine beetle tends to be larger and has other subtle morphological differences, the resinous pitch tubes on infested trees are also larger, they tend to infest the trees after they have already been colonized by southern pine beetles, and they are found in the lower trunk and branches.  They have been found on eight species of pines in Central America and are believed to work in concert with southern pine beetles.  The combination of beetles on infested trees tends to be more destructive than those infested by southern pine beetle alone.

southern pine beetle pitch tubes by Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service - SRS-4552,

For more on the discovery: New Mesoamerican pine beetle described by scientists
To access the original publication: A New Species of Bark Beetle, Dendroctonus mesoamericanus
sp. nov. (Curculionidae: Scolytinae), in Southern Mexico and Central America

Friday, April 17, 2015

Wanted! Reports of Chinaberry!

It certainly is a great time of year to find invasives!  Chinaberry (Melia azedarach) is in full bloom and so it's a good time to map it.  As warm weather moves up the country, mappers in the more northern states keep a look out in the coming weeks for these distinctive trees and flowers.

chinaberry (Melia azedarach) by Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental,
Chinaberry is a tree that is commonly found along road and forest edges and in disturbed areas.  Here in the south I have noticed it most at the edges of agricultural fields.

chinaberry (Melia azedarach) by Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia,
The leaves are alternate and twice- to three-times compound with serrated leaflet edges.   In the fall, the leaves will turn golden-yellow.

chinaberry (Melia azedarach) by Emily Earp,,
The flowers are blooming now and are showy, lavender, and have five petals.  These will turn into fruit which are the size of marbles and are on long stalks.  These will be seen best after the leaves fall in late autumn to early winter and are readily spread by birds.

EDDMapS is always looking to fill in the gaps on the distribution maps.  So if you see a blank county where you know chinaberry can be found, run out and map it using one of the BugwoodApps! The SEEDN app is an app for reporting invasive species occurrences for the southeastern U.S. and is available on iOS (Apple products) and Android devices. If you don't have a smartphone, tablet, or other such device, you can report findings through EDDMapS. Remember to take a picture of the plants you find with your report! Once your reports are verified, it will color in the map where data is currently missing. Happy scouting!

To view distribution maps of chinaberry: Chinaberry distribution
For identification information and other resources on chinaberry: Chinaberry information
To view images of chinaberry: Chinaberry images

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Calling all Mappers! Japanese Honeysuckle is Blooming!

While out walking on Sunday I noticed that the Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is in full bloom here in south Georgia! Seemingly out of nowhere, the days have gotten longer and the temperature has started to really creep up.

Japanese honeysuckle is an invasive flowering vine that has taken over large swathes of the U.S.  It has opposite leaves and flowers.  The flowers occur in pairs at the leaf axils and will often turn from white to a soft yellow as they age.

Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) by Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,

EDDMapS is Bugwood's website for mapping and reporting invasive species nationwide.  It includes data from all types of sources, herbariums to homeowners and federal agencies to citizen scientist programs.  It relies on accurate and quality reports of invasive species occurrences to fill in the maps  and to show a complete distribution of a species.  As Japanese honeysuckle is most easily seen when it is flowering, help us fill in the gaps on the map in the next several weeks!

The easiest way to report where you find Japanese honeysuckle is to use one of the BugwoodApps! The SEEDN app is an app for reporting invasive species occurrences for the southeastern U.S. and is available on iOS (Apple products) and Android devices. If you don't have a smartphone, tablet, or other such device, you can report findings through EDDMapS. Remember to take a picture of the plants you find with your report! Once your reports are verified, it will color in the map where data is currently missing. Happy scouting!

To view distribution maps of Japanese honeysuckle: Japanese honeysuckle distribution
For identification information and other resources on Japanese honeysuckle: Japanese honeysuckle information
To view images of Japanese honeysuckle: Japanese honeysuckle images

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New plant virus in North America, virus family know for diseases in corn, wheat, and sugarcane

Tentatively called the switchgrass mosaic-associated virus 1, it is a member of the mastrevirus genus.  Mosaic virus symptoms are usually a discoloration of plant parts, the specific pattern, affect parts, or coloration varies by the virus, and can also cause stunting, poor yield, and even plant death.

Alfalfa Mosaic Virus (Alfamovirus AMV) on potato by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University,
As viruses are little more than genetic material wrapped in a protective protein coat, they are classified by their genome.  To be included in the mastrevirus genus, the virus must share at least 75% of the genome with another mastrevirus.  Previously described mastreviruses have been found in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia and have been responsible for reduced yield in corn, wheat, and sugarcane. Mastreviruses are primarily transmitted through leafhoppers and as such, the prevalence of infected crops rise and fall with leafhopper populations.  As this is a newly described virus, the current spread of it is unknown, as well as the vector, and has at this time only been found in switchgrass.

The article describing the discovery: First report of a new crop virus in North America

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pathogens as Biological Weapons of Invasive Species

“Invasive species are nonindigenous species that are introduced into new environments, where they become established and expand their range [1]. They undergo rapid proliferation following the colonization of new habitats, often at the expense of native species, thus having a negative impact on biodiversity. The prospering discipline of invasion ecology seeks to understand why some species become successful invaders, while others do not, even if they are closely related. Pathogens and parasites appear to play an important role in this context.”

Friday, April 10, 2015

Giant Snails on the Run from Rescue Dogs

Despite being called "Giant" snails, they can be pretty hard to find.  This is where being able to sniff them out is very helpful.  The snails were discovered on the island Santa Cruz, one of the Galapagos islands, in 2010.  Previously, workers would traverse the island in the dark and rain to find the snails.  It was a very slow and laborious process. Now, two dogs rescued from shelters have been trained to detect the snails, which means that there may be hope to eradicate the snails from the island. If that becomes a reality, the trained dogs will continue in their work, but be reassigned to inspecting cargo and imports for incoming invasives, stopping the problem at the door rather than trying to root them out after they have a foothold.

You may ask, why are snails such a big deal?  Well, these aren't your typical garden snail.

giant East African snail (Achatina fulica) by Roberta Zimmerman, USDA APHIS,
These snails can grow up to eight inches long and four inches in diameter.  They can produce 100-400 eggs in a clutch and may have multiple clutches per year.  They have been found to consume at least 500 different species of plants and cause structural damage by eating plaster and stucco.  They are also a vector for a parasitic nematode known to cause meningitis in humans.  It has been found in Florida, discovered in Miami in 1961, and several countries around the world.

For more on the snail-sniffing dogs: Rescued dogs find new purpose hunting giant invasive snails in the Galapagos
Images: Achatina fulica
The BugwoodWiki: Achatina fulica

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Thousands of goldfish found in Colorado pond

Goldfish certainly aren't native to Boulder, CO, and so it was definitely cause for concern when thousands of them were found in Teller Lake #5 in March.  It is assumed that the population was the result of an aquarium dump.  Some of the options currently being discussed for removal of this exotic species include electrofishing and draining the pond.

This isn't the first time that goldfish have become a problem for Colorado waterbodies.  In 2012, Colorado Parks and Wildlife stunned and removed hundreds of koi from Thunderbird lake.  While they didn't remove all of the koi, some are still being spotted, they are deemed to be at an acceptable population level.

goldfish (Carassius auratus) by U.S. Geological Survey Archive, U.S. Geological Survey,
*Note: Image representative of a nonnative goldfish caught in the field, not from the current Colorado population.

Daily Camera Boulder News: Non-native fish may mean draining one Boulder lake, monitoring at another
Department of Natural Resources press release: Invasive goldfish dumped at Teller Lake #5 in Boulder

Monday, April 6, 2015

Soybean rust; invasive disease carried on the wind

April is not only Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, but also Soyfoods Month.  How about a topic that fits both of those categories?

There are two species of fungi that cause soybean rust, with Phakopsora pachyrhizi being the primary one of concern within the U.S.  P. pachyrhizi is native to Australia and eastern Asia and since 1997 has spread to Africa, South America, and North America.  It was first discovered in the continental U.S. in 2004 on soybean fields in Louisiana and it is suspected that spores of the fungus were carried within hurricane Ivan from that year.

Spores of soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) by Daren Mueller, Iowa State University,

The rust is able to survive winters in the southeast U.S. on kudzu and other alternative hosts and re-infect soybeans and other legumes when winter passes.  It can also spread by wind each season and infect soybeans in areas where it is unable to overwinter, due to cold temperatures, and cause yield loss for soybean growers in the more northern states.  When left untreated, soybean rust can cause 10-80% yield loss.  This seems like a very wide range, but it is due to many environmental factors.  The spores which travel by wind (urediniospores) must have at least six hours of leaf wetness to penetrate leaf surfaces and it should be 58-82F with the optimum conditions being 70-80F and either a heavy dew or light rainfall.  As such, the infection and symptoms tend to occur in mid- to late summer.

Advanced symptoms of soybean rust on unsprayed control plot within a fungicide trial. Soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) by Edward Sikora, Auburn University,

Symptoms first appear on the top side of the leaves as tiny dark red or brown spots and then pustules will form on the undersides of leaves.  The pustules will break open and the wind-blown spores will released.  If the rust goes untreated it can cause leaves to fall off and induce premature maturity, leading to yield loss and reduced seed size.

Symptoms of soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) by Daren Mueller, Iowa State University,

For more information: BugwoodWiki on Phakopsora pachyrhizi
University of Arkansas publication: Asian Soybean Rust
Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities: Asian Soybean Rust in Alabama
More images from Bugwood: Soybean rust

Friday, April 3, 2015

Kudzu Bugs; Urban and Agricultural Pest

Oh, kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria), you truly are a pest.  Not only does it smell, being part of the stinkbug family after all, but it also is an urban pest and an agricultural pest.  It was discovered in the U. S. in October 2009 in Georgia and has since spread throughout the southeast.

Map from BugwoodWiki Megacopta cribraria

So, how could these be a urban issue as well as an agricultural one?  Kuzdu bugs are attracted to light-colored surfaces, most notably house siding, white cars and white clothing.

kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) by Matthew Gibson,
When the bugs were first found, no alarm bells went off.  They eat kudzu, we have plenty of that!  Well, soon after, they were found on other legume plants.  In 2014, 84.6 million acres of soybeans were planted in the U. S. and value of production was $40,288,536,000 (USDA-NASS Crop Values
2014 Summary).  That's a lot of food for hungry kudzu bugs.

kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) by Jeremy Greene, Clemson University,
So, why are we talking about kudzu bugs now?  The adults are waking up from overwintering, crawling out of their sheltered cracks and crevices.  Soon you will see them on houses and other structures warming up for the season.  During the summer, they will move to kudzu and other legume plants to reproduce.  In certain areas of Georgia they have been observed to have a second generation.  While they only feed and reproduce on legumes, they will land on other plants, not a fun situation for gardeners.

If you find kudzu bugs, report them!  Use EDDMapS or the SEEDN app to report your find, and don't forget to include a picture of what you found.

Keep an eye out for them and remember, don't squish them, they're STINKBUGS!

For more on the appearance of Kudzu bugs this year: Room to Grow: Kudzu bugs making their spring appearance
BugwoodWiki article: Megacopta cribraria
Images: kudzu bug
Current Distribution Map

Thursday, April 2, 2015

USDA Seeks the Public’s Help to Stop Invasive, ‘Hungry Pests’

USDA Seeks the Public’s Help to Stop Invasive, ‘Hungry Pests’

Asian Longhorn Beetle: is containment and eradication working?

The Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), native to eastern China, Japan, and Korea, was found in the U.S. 1996.  The first observation was on hardwood trees in Brooklyn, New York and is believed to have come into the U.S. on infested wood pallets and other wood packing material.  It was later found in Chicago, IL in 1998 and has since been detected in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

Despite having wings and the ability to fly for up to 400 meters at a time, ALB tends to live on the same tree for its entire life.  ALB will fly to another tree only when the population on a tree becomes too dense.  The primary method of traveling tends to be when lumber and plant material is moved by humans.  As adults tend to only cause a small amount of damage to trees by feeding on leaves and twigs, the larvae tunneling and feeding on the vascular tissues are considered the cause for tree decline and ultimate death.  ALB can feed on a variety of trees including maples, elm, horsechestnut, willow, sycamore and birch.

Areas where ALB is found are put under quarantine and moving plant material, especially lumber and firewood, is regulated.  The Ohio Department of Agriculture has quarantined 61 square miles around the infestation discovered in Clermont county and infested trees are removed.  ALB can cost a state billions of  dollars in lost timber, urban plantings, private property, and nursery stock; at least $2.5 billion worth of maple timber in Ohio.  It seems to be that quarantines and the treatment efforts are working, as in 2008, ALB was declared eradicated in Chicago, Illinois, and Hudson County, New Jersey and in 2011, it was declared eradicated from Islip, New York.

Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) by Melody Keena, USDA Forest Service,

On the quarantine efforts in Ohio: Longhorned beetle contained, still poses threat
USDA-APHIS information on ALB: Asian Longhorned Beetle
For information and reporting: Asian Longhorned Beetle
US Forest Service page on ALB: Asian Longhorned Beetle
For images of ALB: Forestry Images of Asian Longhorned Beetle
BugwoodWiki article: Anoplophora glabripennis

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month!

In 2012, April was dedicated as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month by the USDA-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.  A lot of attention has been directed towards invasive aquatics (zebra mussels immediately come to mind of boaters everywhere), reptiles (who hasn't heard of the pythons in the Everglades), and a few plants (kudzu is the plant almost everyone knows) so during this month we will be occasionally posting about invasive pests and diseases of plants.  Let us know if there is a particular pest or disease  that you find interesting!

Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) by Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,