Focus on disease and insects
By Kevin Ong, Ph.D., and Erfan Vafaie
Get to Know Your Pest
This is an image of a dead adult spotted latternfly.
THE ONG FAMILY TOOK A TRIP to Pennsylvania to visit family in July. One evening while sitting around and enjoying barbecue with my folks, and an insect flew onto the table. I looked oddly familiar, so I caught it. The coloration of this insect quickly caught my eye, and I realized I had a spotted lanternfly in my grasp. A bunch of things went through my head, and Internet research confirmed that I had caught this insect in a quarantined county. What that means is that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture was aware and had confirmed the presence of the spotted lanternfly in the county where my parents reside.
TNLA Green September/October 2019
My next action was to reduce the population of this insect in this county by one. The very next day, we visited a cousin who lives approximately 20 miles from my parents (in a different county). While walking up to the front door, I noticed a bunch of insects crawling around. I had a suspicious feeling that they were spotted lanternfly nymphs. I took some photos of them, and sent these photos to Erfan Vafaie with the message: “Are these what I think they are?” My cousin’s husband knew what it was, and he is not a in the plant or insect field. I was curious as to how he was aware of the situation. Apparently, it had been on the news, but he sought
more information because these insects had killed a tree on his property and were a nuisance by their sheer numbers. Many times, invasive insect pests and pathogens go unnoticed because people are not aware that there is such an issue or don’t recognize the signs and symptoms. The spotted lanternfly has not been found in Texas and hopefully will not find its way down here anytime soon. We do, however, have several pests and pathogens that are of quarantined concern in Texas. Some are already present in the state, such as citrus canker and citrus greening, which affect growers, retailers, and landscapers. Parts of Texas are quarantined for one or both of these diseases. Regulations imposed include restriction in movement of the plant material and procedures to produce pathogen-free plants. For the growers, it means more planning and effort, which cost more money, to grow and distribute the plants in a manner compliant with the quarantines in place. Retailers and landscapers have an obligation to inform their customers these plants can’t be moved out of any quarantined zones. Details about these diseases, the regulations, and quarantined zones are available from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Pest and Disease Alert webpage, www.texasagriculture. gov/RegulatoryPrograms/PlantQuality. Citrus canker is generally much easier to recognize because of the distinct leaf spots it produces. Foliage symptoms of citrus greening mimic nutritional deficiency, making it difficult to diagnose by observation alone. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was first reported in Harrison county (on the