The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared April to be Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. To support this effort, the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Lab recently launched a new Wisconsin invasive insect mapping page to help track invasive insects in the state.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll notice that quite a few of my posts focus on invasive insects. Why? In part, it’s because these non-native insects tend to be new or emerging issues and a key role of the UW Insect Diagnostic Lab is to help identify and track new and trending insects in the state. In addition, these invasive insects can sometimes cause significant damage or capture our attention for other reasons. In a typical year, I see 2-3 new non-native insects show up in Wisconsin, which really adds up over time. For every species that has arrived here, many more are making progress towards the state (e.g., spotted lanternfly). In other cases, non-native insects show up completely out of the blue.
What’s the big deal with non-native insects?
- Compete with native insect species
- Pose economic costs (over $26 Billion in N. America annually!)
- Damage plants in landscapes and/or natural settings (e.g., lily leaf beetle, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid)
- Threaten agricultural crops and our food supply (e.g., spotted lanternfly, Khapra beetle)
- Threaten human or animal health (e.g., Aedes mosquitoes and many diseases)
- Disrupt ecosystem processes (e.g., carbon cycling)
- Be an aesthetic or nuisance issue (e.g., European earwigs, German yellowjackets, etc.)
Introducing the new mapping page:
Because of the impacts mentioned above, it’s helpful to track invasive species so we can better understand where they may be having impacts, and also to get the word out about new detections and allow folks to take appropriate action. To help in this regard, the IDL’s new invasive insect mapping page hosts a series of maps showing the known county-level distributions of a select list of invasive species.
These particular species have been included due to their relatively recent arrival in Wisconsin, and the ability to track them on a county-by-county basis. Keep in mind that many other non-native insects can be found in the state, but some of these have been around a long time, are now widespread, and tracking on a county-by-county basis is no longer feasible or helpful (e.g., Japanese beetle, European paper wasps, German yellowjackets, European earwigs, and many more).
The maps on this page will be updated when new detections occur, and additional species maps will be added over time. If you believe that you’ve observed one of the listed insects in a county where it has not been documented or a new invasive insect species, please collect evidence (physical specimens and/or digital images) and contact me to work on officially confirming the detection. An example entry from the map page can be found below: