This Week's Podcast: Hungry Pests with Sharon Lucik
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Sharon Lucik is a Public Affairs specialist for the USDA. Her specialty? Invasive insects and diseases like the Emerald ash borer, the Asian longhorn beetle and citrus greening.
Sharon has led various regional and national outreach campaigns to increase awareness about the risks of moving firewood, for example, and the need to stop the spread of forest pests and diseases.
Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis fairmaire), an invasive insect native to Asia, has killed millions of ash trees (Fraxinus species) in urban, rural and forested settings. I ask about whether the insect goes for all ash trees: black, white and green? The answer is yes, and maybe even the white fringe tree. This beetle was first identified in 2002 in southeast Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. As of April 2014, emerald ash borer infestations were known to be present in 22 states as well as two Canadian provinces. The pest is not in my backyard – yet USDA representatives would come to my Brooklyn garden around twice a year to check the trees, especially maples, to see if there were “bullet” holes --- the perfectly round exit holes left by adult Asian longhorn beetles when they emerged after doing their damage. So far, the insects have been isolated to New York, Massachusetts and Ohio, but other states are on the watch list.
Citrus greening is a disease, but another insect – the Asian citrus psyllid, transmits the incurable illness. Oranges, for example, do not turn their ripe color and are bitter – useless. Disfigured leaves on citrus trees are one of the first signs. People who grow citrus can try to keep their trees healthy, irrigated; well cared for – stressed plants are often attacked first. Controlling the insect might be the only way to limit the loss of citrus trees. Sharon says greening has been seen in all states where these trees are grown, for instance, Florida, Texas and California.
To learn more, visit hungrypests.com. Find out if one of these problems is on its way to a tree near you and what you might be able to do about it.