Rose entomologist discovers invasive species


December 22, 2015

Mark VanderWerpMark VanderWerp, BCE, manager of education and training at Troy, Mich.-based Rose Pest Solutions, recently captured an invasive species new to Michigan: the elm seed bug (Arocatus melanocephalus).

VanderWerp first spotted the unidentified insect in the backyard of his Birmingham, Mich., home in midsummer. The insects matched others found by a Rose Pest Solutions technician, and VanderWerp suspected they were elm seed bug, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) later confirmed. The invasive species is native to Europe and has, in the last three years, become established in Oregon, Idaho and Utah. This is believed to be the first confirmed spotting of the elm seed bug east of the Rockies.

While VanderWerp says the bugs aren’t known to do much damage to the elm trees they feed off of, they can invade homes when they look for protected places to spend the winter months. The bugs also release an offensive odor that can be vexing to homeowners, VanderWerp adds.

“We will be watching these bugs closely in 2016 to see what they do,” he says. “As they are brand new to Michigan, we really don’t know how rapidly they will spread and how big of a nuisance they will be for local residents.”

According to VanderWerp, a tightly sealed home is the best way to prevent an invasion. Sealing cracks in walls and tears in screens will help out. Also, a well-timed exterior application by a pest management professional can reduce numbers considerably.

“In the case of infestation, vacuuming the bugs is an effective method to remove them, but time consuming,” says VanderWerp. “Be aware the bugs’ odor will leave your vacuum cleaner smelling funky.”

The Elm Seed Bug overwinters, so infested homeowners likely will not see activity until spring.

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