I received a bulletin a few weeks ago from Michigan State University announcing the first sighting of a new invasive insect threat, the Japanese Lantern Fly. This rather attractive Asian species is a serious concern because it is sap sucking generalist, loving quite a number of woody species of economic and ecological value. They really love the Tree of Heaven, also native to Asia, but will be happy to feed heavily on just about anything it finds.
When foreign species of insects and plants find each other in a new environment, they create a similar ecological dynamic, minus predators, climate or other natural factors that would keep a check on their numbers in their native habitat. Boom is the result, an explosion of growth – and another invasive species is born!
The increase in global trade and developing land management practices have led to fragmented, and thus potentially dysfunctional, Asian and European invasives. Those invasives destabilize otherwise resilient systems.
Keep your eyes peeled for the newest and latest invasives Michiana should consider itself on alert.
Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager