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Into The Outdoors: Invaders - Part 2

Last week’s column on invaders was well received. That made me think that a second installment might be a good idea.

Let’s start off with the brown stinkbug. These disgusting insects have been showing up in increasing numbers for a number of years. They are aptly named, as they emit a foul smell when threatened or crushed. They are native to Asia, and are great at destroying crops. They also like to invade houses, especially when hibernation time rolls around. They can enter through the tiniest of spaces, and do so in great numbers. Warm spells, such as we have been having, can activate them. Spraying the eaves of your house with a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice will discourage them from entering, but some will get through.

Orange ladybugs, which are technically not really bugs, are another nuisance. Some bureaucrat decided that introducing them would be a good idea to eliminate plant pests upon which they feed. They have now reached astounding numbers, and have become a pest themselves. They have pretty much crowded out our little red ladybugs. They stink, and they also bite. Like stinkbugs, they like to get inside to hibernate.

The spotted lanternfly has been making the news lately. This Asian import is actually rather pretty to look at. Looks can be deceptive, though. They are a genuine pest, posing a genuine threat to agriculture. I have heard no reports of anyone finding them around here, but they are already in Pennsylvania, so it’s just a matter of time until they find their way here, if they haven’t already.

The emerald ash borer has been around for quite awhile. These glossy green beetles lay their eggs in the bark of an ash tree. When the larvae hatch, they bore (hence the name) under the bark, feeding on the tree, which ultimately dies. They have decimated the ash trees in the state, including one I nurtured from a seedling in my yard.

Have you noticed a decline in the poulation of hemlock trees. If you have, it is quite possibly the work of the woolly adelgid, These insects lay their eggs on the trees, especially the young shoots. Often, but not always, they are fatal to the tree. They were accidentally introduced into this country from Japan.

There is also no shortage of invasive flora. Staghorn sumac is a good example. Not to be confused with the infamous poison sumac, they still contain enough irritant to be a problem for some people. To this point, it has never bothered me, even though I am extremely sensitive to poison ivy. Sumacs are actually strikingly pretty, especially in the fall, when the leaves turn to bright red. The problem is that they grow like wildfire and spread rapidly, taking over a piece of land in no time if left unchecked.

The multiflora rose was introduced with the idea of providing havitat for wildlife. It has developed into vast, next to impenetrable thickets. A number of years ago, old Bub and I decided to make our way through one in pursuit of deer. By the time we finished, our clothes were torn, and we looked like jigsaw puzzles. We never tried that again.

We have, this week and last, looked at many, but certainly not all, invasive species. One thing they have in common is that every one was introduced either directly or indirectly by humans.

Before we close, here’s a reminder about outdoor pets. Coyotes are very active at this time of year, and they find cats and small dogs to be a real treat. Also, great horned owls will be nesting soon, and there will be hungry little mouths to feed. Keep a close eye on your furry friends.


Chris Henderson email:

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