January 22, 2012

Maine Gardener: New pest arrivals bode ill for Maine gardens, lawns


(Continued from page 1)

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The spotted wing drosophila

Courtesy photos

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The brown marmorated stink bug

Additional Photos Below

When the weather gets colder, it will try to invade homes -- which is a big problem because, as its name suggests, the bug stinks.

Maine has other stink bugs, but those do not do much, if any, damage to crops. And while the marmorated stink bug does not kill the crops it eats, and doesn't even make it totally inedible, it does cause enough damage to make the crops unmarketable.

The brown marmorated stink bug has an alternating black-and-white edging on its shield-shaped back and alternating black and white antennae.

The third new pest damages lawns only, and so far has been found only on Mount Desert Island. The European crane fly is also called the leatherjacket, and as an adult it looks like a huge mosquito, measuring 1.5 inches long, similar to other native insects.

The adults do no damage, but often will try to get inside people's houses, and can be a bit scary-looking, Coluzzi said. But the larvae will eat both the roots and new shoots of grass, doing damage similar to that done by the European chafer.

The emerald ash borer is old news, although it has yet to arrive in Maine. It has decimated the ash trees in Michigan, and is now as close as the Hudson River Valley.

The emerald ash borer travels mostly on firewood, so the state is not allowing people to bring firewood into Maine, and is urging people not to transfer firewood around Maine. The borer tunnels through the cambium layer of ash trees and kills them quickly.

The state will increase its monitoring for the emerald ash borer from 200 traps last year to 1,000 traps this year in an effort to locate the pest as soon as it arrives. The prism traps are purple, but they give off the same light wavelength as ash leaves, so are attractive to the borer. So don't be surprised if you see the traps while traveling through the woods.

The Asian longhorn beetle is another pest that is as close as Worcester, Mass., but has not arrived in Maine yet. This pest can be controlled if it is caught early. It is a large beetle with long horns, so if you see one, contact the Department of Agriculture or the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.


Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:



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Additional Photos

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The European crane fly

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The emerald ash borer

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The Asian longhorn beetle

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