Invasive Species

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys, right) can be distinguished from the brown (Euschistus servus, left) and bark (Brochymena quadripustulata, center) stink bugs by markings and the white bands at the joints of the antennae.  (Note: These images not necessarily to scale.

Ag Biz News Column
Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent—Ag/NR
Smith County

 

Invasive Species

“An “invasive species” is defined as a species that is non-native or alien to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” (Executive Order 1311 from Texas Invasives website http://www.texasinvasives.org/).

Invasive species can be very expensive to prevent, monitor and control.  Invasive species cost the United States $137 billion annually.   Invasive species also cause damage to crops, fisheries, forests, and other resources.  Some of the most harmful species cost in excess of $100 million annually.  Invasive species may be plant, animal or insects.  Once established, these invasive species can compete with native species and interfere with the local ecosystem causing economic and environmental damage.  As invasive species move into a new area, they may thrive due to a favorable environment and no known predators, competition or diseases that may keep the species in check in its native habitat.

A list of invasive plant species for East Texas include giant reed, common water hyacinth, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese climbing fern, golden bamboo, kudzu, giant salvinia, and the Chinese tallow tree to name a few.  The Texas Department of Agriculture has a list of invasive species and can be found by going to http://info.sos.state.tx.us/fids/200701978-1.html .

Invasive animal species for Texas include feral hogs, zebra mussels, some fish species, and nutria to name a few.  Invasive insect species for Texas include the red-imported fire ants, chilli thrips, Emerald Ash borer, and the Formosan subterranean termite to name a few.  There are numerous other animal and insect species on the invasive list.

So what can I do?  For boaters, it is important that they clean, drain and dry their boat, trailer and gear every time they leave a body of water.  Pet owners with fish or other exotic species should not release plants, fish or pet species into the wild as they are non-native and can pose an environmental problem.  For gardeners, not all non-native plants are bad.  Know what plants may work in your garden area but do not pose an environmental problem if spread to other area around you.   The Texas Invasive website is helpful with good information for homeowners, gardeners, and more and can be found by going to http://www.texasinvasives.org/.

Texans are asked to always be on the lookout for plants, animals and insects they are not accustomed to seeing in their area.  The brown marmorated stink bug is an insect entomologists across the state are monitoring and they are encouraging people to report any found.  “We’re working to raise awareness about the brown marmorated stink bug in Texas,” said Bill Ree, AgriLife Extension entomologist at College Station. “This pest is hitting some states hard. It’s a great hitchhiker which is probably one, if not the main reason, it has spread to so many states. Adults seeking overwintering sites tend to get in recreational vehicles, travel trailers, etc.”

The brown marmorated stink bug is a new pest to Texas and a relatively new pest to the United States.  They are a true bug with piercing-sucking mouthparts and they have a large list of plants that they may feed upon including numerous ornamentals, vegetables and fruits.  These stink bugs are shield-shaped, about 5/8 inch and mottled brown in color.  The last two antennal segments have alternating light and dark bands.  The edges of the abdomen, which are exposed from above, also have alternating light and dark bands.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

 

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