Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Invasion

We went from sweating to sweaters in a day, and I am OK.

This summer we had a new visitor.  Isn't he/she beautiful?


It is a Spotted Lantern Fly.

Having first appeared in 2014 in some cargo from the East, this invasive, killing machine has taken over a large part of southeastern Pennsylvania trees and is now moving into other states.  Their favorite hang out is the Ailanthus Altissima, a weed tree which grows in abundance in woods and fields.  From there they spread out to grape vines, fruit, Willow, Maples, pines, and timber trees.  As they get more used to the environment, it is thought that it will harm other varieties.  My neighbor, down the road, had three apple trees that are now without leaves and fruit.  According to the PA Department of Agriculture, “Trees will develop weeping wounds.  These wounds will leave a grayish or black trail along the trunk and the ground beneath will become black with their secretions."  It is said that on average, each one of these pests will lay 100 eggs and these masses are all over the bark of many, many trees.  There is little that can be done about them as they have no natural predators.  We are told to scrape the eggs off, which is not an easy task, especially if you are short and leery of long ladders. Swatting these bugs is exhausting as there are too many to even make a dent in the population.  A systemic insecticide seems to work but we have a few acres of woods behind our property and it would be cost prohibitive to do all of them.  They pose a multi-billion dollar threat to our state's economy because of the damage they do to wine and hops (OH, NO) fruit, logging, landscaping and other industries.  A friend works at a small airport and these bugs have infested most of the trees on their 200 acres of property.  He showed a video of them crawling up one tree, and there were thousands. I am sparing you the video, as it is disgusting.  The fear that some of these pests will hitch a ride on a plane and spread this threat is very real.  Right now it is like the plague of the locusts, they are all over, and it is not pleasant to be outside.

This picture was taken over a month ago on one of my trees.  There are many more bugs on it now.  




My beautiful Willow was a victim of the SLF.  We thought it looked stressed as its leaves were spotted and turning yellow in June.  We planned on calling an arborist in, but did not get the chance.  We woke up one Sunday morning with the tree on our house.



When it came down, we saw the that it was covered with the nymphs and the egg masses were all over the bark.  My Retired Man and I worked rapidly to get the tree off the house, probably to the chagrin of our neighbors who I am sure were not happy to be woken up early on a Sunday morning with the buzzing of a saw.  We got a good deal of it cleaned up but were beyond happy to see that our landscape helper "just" happened to be passing our house and stopped by to see what he could do.   It took a few days but it eventually got all cleaned up.  There was no damage to the house as Willow is a soft wood, but there was some to my heart.  I loved that tree.

He left the stump and told us to call someone else to remove it. I decided to keep it and made what I call "Memorial to Willow".  I wrapped fairy lights around it because I always overdo.



The grass is beginning to grow back and so is something else.  It is just one branch, but you never know.


 I call it Hope.




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32 comments:

  1. It would be so sweet if Willow grows back. I had not heard of this horrible invasion and how destructive these pretty insects are.

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    1. It is hard to kill a Willow. Only one branch now, but maybe more next year.

      These bugs are on in three states on the East Coast. The really big fear is that they will spread further and cause great damage to farmlands all over the country.

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  2. HOPE is the greatest word on the planet.....don't you think?

    xo

    Jo

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  3. Oh my, those are some big bugs. Yikes. I can just imagine how you feel about your beautiful Willow. I'm so sorry.

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    1. They are about the size of a large moth when their wings are extended. They are known as "hoppers" but they fly very well also.

      Having something to hope for keeps me going.

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  4. Willows often grow back....fingers crossed.

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  5. Such a beautiful, deadly bug! It's horrifying. Sorry for the (temporary) loss of your Willow. I hope she grows back even stronger!!! xo

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    1. I hope so also, Marion. It was such a wonderful looking tree that shaded a good part of my back yard. I have such wonderful memories of family and friends enjoying a summer afternoon under it's beautiful umbrella.

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  6. Like my nemesis, the brown-marmorated-stink-bug, it also came from Asia, although it's not as destructive as the SLF is, it has wreaked havoc on agriculture crops. How horrible to have to battle this, and because it's not native, there are no natural predators. I'll hope those answers are quickly found, and your "hope tree" will grow into a beautiful tree.

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    1. The other afternoon, I was outside in my screen room. There were 28 SLFs and 42 stink bugs on the outside of the screen. You can see how exciting my life is that I have time to count bugs. I hope you have been spared this year, but look for the egg masses in the spring on the bark of your trees.

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  7. Hopefully your willow will grow back. That bug looks so pretty but, obviously, causes a lot of devastation. I do hope it does not arrive here in New Zealand.

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    1. The only way it will get to you is if it hits a ride on a freighter from China, Japan, Viet Nam and now Pennsylvania.

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  8. That insect is revolting. And so close to Ohio.

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    1. They came here in 2014 and landed in a port about 40 miles from here. This is our first year of having them (and boy, do we have them). The farthest west I have heard them being is Lancaster, PA. It might take years to get to Ohio, Joanne, and hopefully, by then, they will have something to stop them.

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  9. I am so sorry you lost your tree. And happy your house wasn't damaged. It is a pretty critter thought.

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    1. Emma, I have a feeling that in a few years, my Willow will have sprouted more branches and if I live long enough, I may be able to get some shade from it again. That also will depend on the scientists coming up with something to eradicate this horrible pest.

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  10. Oh dear that sounds disastrous. Over here we have the tiny Cynips wasp that was attacking all the Chestnut trees; Chestnuts are a very important crop to the area. It seems that we all have some disaster looming.

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  11. Oh, that's sad (and frustrating). Trees play such and important role in providing a welcoming "feel" to a neighborhood.

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    1. I knew it was a matter of time before something happened to the tree as it had had some problems in the past. However, I thought it would be a storm and not a bug that brought it down.

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  12. It's nice that you pointed out the beauty of that insect before telling us it is a killing machine!
    It's difficult to get a mortgage on certain properties if willow trees (and some others) are too close to the house. I suppose it's the same in the US as in the UK.
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s recondite Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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  13. When we moved here sixteen years ago, the tree was a year old and small. It did not look that close to the house. The tree grew to become huge and a beautiful centerpiece for my yard. However, I worried everytime we had a storm and when the winds blew furiously. Although I loved that tree very much, I now get to enjoy a new view and see things that I never appreciated before.

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  14. I suppose it is all the planes flying backward and forward over the world that bring these unwanted pests to harvest in strane lands. We have a plague of ladybirds at the moment, think they fly over from Europe.

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    1. In this case, it was a cargo freighter that brought them over. The world is getting smaller.

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  15. I was admiring that first picture for about three seconds before I read what followed. What a miserable bug. I know we all have to eat, but I wonder what eats this particular fellow in his native land?

    The willow stump looks very good as a plant stand and now the new branch makes a nice backdrop for your flowering plants.

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    1. I have been told that they have a wasp there that keeps them in check. However, introducing another insect could also have dire effects. At this point, a good heavy shoe or fly swatter is our only recourse.

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  16. How horrifying that something so beautiful could cause such devastation. I'm sorry you lost your beautiful willow tree, but it's awesome that it's showing signs of life again. Hope is the perfect name for it. The resiliency of trees is utterly amazing. We could learn a lot from them.

    Have a super weekend. (Woo HOO! It actually feels like autumn here today!)

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  17. Autumn came and visited us today also. It has brought a lot of wind with it, which I could have done without. It does feel good, though, not to sweat.

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  18. SOmething scary about invaders like that. I always think, what if they were each several feet long? :D :D

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  19. Dear Arleen, so many animals and plants and insects that do harm to our landscape are invasive ones from elsewhere that have, as you point out, no natural predators. I know this must be part of the natural flow of life and that natural readjusts but as we are dealing now with climate change I'm thinking that there are some things we cannot halt in their tracks or change back to resolve. I hope there are no other trees on your lawn that are infected with this insect. I'm sure that there's a deep-down grieving in you for the loss of what has been your environment. Peace.

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