Maple Tree

With 19 million forested acres contributing $12 billion to the Michigan economy and supporting 200,000 jobs, there’s absolutely no room for troublesome pests to make the Great Lakes State their home.

“Detroit is the world’s busiest commercial border crossing. This contributes to Michigan being ranked in the top 10 states for risk of new exotic pest introductions and their negative impacts,” says Jeffrey Zimmer, deputy division director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division.

He adds the pests can come in small numbers and with no natural enemies, they have the opportunity to grow significantly before being identified.

Zimmer says the pest that’s at the top of Michigan’s least-wanted list is the Asian Longhorned Beetle. This Asian native is a terror to forest and landscape trees. It attacks and kills many species of trees, but prefers maples. Currently, more than 1 billion maple trees grow in Michigan.

“The early detection and mitigation of invasive species is a cooperative effort and is critical to protecting and preserving Michigan’s agricultural and forest resources and maintaining viable export markets,” Zimmer says.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

Both MDARD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are aiding in this critical detection, monitoring pest pathways and encouraging quarantine compliance to help prevent importation of pests. Zimmer adds that education is key to detecting pests before they cause significant damage.

“Prevention through education is an important effort. We need the eyes and ears of professionals, Michiganders, and visitors to be on the lookout for pests and diseases,” he says.

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MDARD has provided training on identifying pests to loggers, foresters, arborists and more, while Michigan State University (MSU) is teaching farmers and landowners how to be prepared to deal with pests like the spotted-wing drosophila and the brown marmorated stinkbug – both serious threats to the state’s fruit growers.

As much as MDARD and others are doing to prevent pests, sometimes they can still manage to destroy a farmer’s crop. Zimmer says if a farmer comes across an unknown pest, they should notify MSU Extension and MDARD immediately. The sooner farmers can detect them, the better chance they have of salvaging the crop. Information about monitoring for agricultural pests can be found on MSU Extension websites.

As for future plans, Zimmer says MDARD, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are developing an interagency cooperative program to help address and control terrestrial and aquatic invasive species. They also hope to establish long-term funding for invasive pest survey and response, which will help strengthen an ongoing commitment to protect Michigan from invasive species.

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