Watch out for invasive exotic beetles

I have written about invasive plants that take over natural habitats pushing out native plants and their related insects, birds and animals, increasing erosion and reducing property value. Invasive exotic beetles are another rising problem, particularly bark beetles that destroy trees in landscapes and native forests.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners (MGs) are now training with Jeff Knight, the state entomologist, to teach the general public about invasive beetle monitoring. Training others to watch for exotic beetles provides many more eyes in the field to spot potential problem invaders. The problem beetles on the watch list are the Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, banded elm bark beetle, goldspotted oak borer, ambrosia beetle, oak splendor beetle, pine shoot beetle, red-haired pine bark beetle, Sirex wood wasp and walnut twig beetle. Funding for this program was provided by the U.S. Forest Service with support from Nevada Division of Forestry.

Tree health, both in urban and forest settings, is important for many reasons, such as aesthetics, fire safety and wildlife habitat. Landscape trees are at risk when invasive species, particularly insects, damage or kill trees. This not only impacts property values and quality of life, but dead and dying trees become fuel for wildfires, putting both people and property in danger. Healthy urban forests are critical to many native species that depend on them for life.

Be watching for presentations on invasive beetles so you too can be a citizen monitor.

Follow up on

woodpecker deterent

On another note, in my recent woodpecker article, I recommended sticky substances such as Tanglefoot® to deter them. Linda Hiller, a zoologist and bird expert, wrote me "There's quite a bit of data out there about this stuff being potentially deadly to birds, about it getting on songbird feathers, then clogging their nasal area and even "gluing" their beaks as they try to clean their feet or feathers off. They starve to death or suffocate from this sticky stuff." I know how sticky these products can be, and should have realized the adverse effects to desirable birds. I withdraw my poor suggestion to use these products to deter woodpeckers and recommend using physical barriers instead. Linda pointed out, "Sapsucker holes attract myriad birds and other wildlife (mainly to prey on the insects that are attracted to the sap)."

Although a few holes may not kill a tree, multiple holes year after year can eventually kill trees, particularly if they are stressed.

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and may be reached at or 887-2252.


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