Old Barn

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This is what invasive vines can do to an old barn!  My husband joked that he could probably take the barn down with his bare hands and he couldn’t get over the huge vines climbing all the way to the top.  We discovered this scene at a field where we selected our Christmas tree last weekend.  Had to capture this photo!  See more under my prior invasive’s blogs.

Invasive Vines

Barn is Covered

Asian Longhorned Beetle

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When one is hit by a cold or flu virus, it is like your body is under a slow attack.  Each oncoming symptom brings on a decrease in productivity.  As I deal with my first winter cold this week, I think about how the affects of a cold on my body must be similar to how a tree feels when an Asian Longhorned Beetle takes up residence in its bark and wood.  Like a virus, it starts to decrease the tree’s ability to perform, and can weaken it to the point of death. 

If you haven’t heard of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), now is the time to pay attention.  It is native to China and Korea, but made it to Worcester, MA on August 2, 2008 where it destroyed many trees.  It was first spotted in Brookland, NY and has been found in Central Park as well.  Fortunately, it has not made its way to CT yet, but as residents, we are asked to keep a look out for ALB. 

This beetle prefers maples and many other hardwood trees such as boxelder, horse chestnut, buckeyes, willows, elms, mimosa, poplar, hackberry, and birches. It is a bit lazy.  It doesn’t care to fly because of its weight, but this doesn’t stop it from moving into trees and harming large areas of trees quickly.

Asian Longhorned

Shiny black body

This photo shows what it looks like with long black antennae that has alternating bands of black/white, shiny body with white spots, and six legs.  It begins life as an egg that is laid in very shallow dents of the tree’s outer bark.  As it changes into a pupa, it will drill into the tree.  On its way out as a mature beetle, it will leave dime-sized, almost perfectly round, exit holes where it emerges. 

During a talk about the ALB by Rose Hiskes of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station, she said if a pencil can be pushed into the hole to a depth 1/2″, it may be the former home of this beetle.  Other signs of it are oval scars on the bark where the eggs were laid.  You may also notice pencil shaving like material around the tree’s base, or yellow leaves at the top.

The sightings of this beetle has so far been the result of citizens noticing it first.  In fact, when found in Worcester, a woman called her experiment station, saying she recently moved into her residence, and saw beetles she had not seen before.  Shortly after she emailed pictures to the Ag Station, the experts rushed up there the very next morning to establish an immediate plan of action.  It is critical we keep an eye out for this beetle and if spotted, report it by calling (203) 974-8474 or email CAES.State.Entomologist@ct.gov

ALB Specimens

Pointing Out

The ALB is visible from late spring through fall.  The adults emerge around July, but the larvea can be in cut wood as well.  Word is going out that you should NOT move firewood, especially from state to state.  You may think it is harmless but this insect devasted trees in Worcester which is just over the CT line!  If you have firewood at campsites, burn it, don’t move it back to your home residence. It is costly to not only eliminate the pest, but to reestablish the area with healthy trees. 

Rose Hiskes from the Windsor Ag Station also pointed out that the beetle often takes up residence at the highest point of trees where the food is most concentrated in the bark and wood.  Thus, remember to look up.  Yellowing leaves at the top or dead limbs can be a signal, especially when this occurs in spring, summer when leaves should not be changing into fall colors.  ALB also chews on the viens of leaves. 



This photo shows beetles that look similar to ALB.  Note some are smaller, no spots.

Stop the chances by being aware when you are out taking walks in the woods or gardening.  Search and report any findings to 1-866-702-9938 for New England, or contact your State Department of Agriculture or the USDS State Plant Health Director.    For more info:  http://beetlebusters.aphis.usda.gov

Invasives by Roadside/Woods

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Because fall is here and leaves are currently dropping from trees, I am noticing invasive plants more than ever.  Many are bearing fruit right now.  Did you know that many invasives are first to leaf out in spring and last to drop leaves in the fall?  They seem to out-compete in so many ways.  Recently on a walk in EW with a friend, we saw a number of common invasives along the roadside growing all together.  But first, I pointed out to her that a landscape plant infront of her house is a Burning Bush which is on the list of a favorite by folks but is a trouble maker to nature.  Shortly down the road, there it was was growing among Autumn Olive Shrubs and Oriental Bittersweet Vines.  We also saw tons of Japanese Knotweed.  She asked if the Burning Bushes in the thicket could be from her plant – and I assured her it certainly can.  Wildlife eat the fruits and disperse the seeds to new areas.  Shortly down the road, there was a street sign embedded with vines of Bittersweet.  I almost took a photo, but would you believe on the way back, there was a roadcrew person tearing it off with equipment?  When I took a photo (below) of what he was doing, he admitted it was difficult to rip out manually so he was using this huge equipment to get it off the sign.  Many invasives have thorns and deep root systems that make them difficult to eliminate once established.  That same week, I hiked with my sister in Granby.  We again saw tons of Japanese Barberry in huge thickets in the woods.  All of these invasives are tolerant of a wide range of soil types and light conditions.  Burning Bush turns green in the woods so one may not notice it right off.  I know I’m interested in studying the invasives world more.  I hope you will be inspired to stay away from collecting the berries and seeds from these troublesome

plants during the fall season for decoration around your home – for you would be bringing them into your landscape where they will certainly escape.  Plants find a way.  Click on photos to enlarge.

Invasives Class Today

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I never want to add an invasive plant to a garden design by mistake.  So I try to keep up with news on the subject, attended a CHS ed session about invasives last Sat.  Interesting story I heard was how invasive Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) was attempted to be controlled by burning the bushes in an area, mice scattered everywhere looking for new homes (and as we know, mice play a role in tick problems in CT).  Thus more barberry in the woods, more problems with ticks!  Speaking of burning bushes, burning bushes (Euonymus alatus) are also very invasive.  Try Highbush Blueberry as a great native alternative that has the similar effect of beautiful red foliage in the fall.  For more, see www.conservect.org/ctrivercoastal.