Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Guest Article - The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases

Illinois is full of dedicated people and innovative ideas for addressing invasive species. From time to time, this blog is going to host guest articles in which the stories about some of these people, projects, or ideas are told. The next article in this series comes from Andi Dierich, Illinois Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator, with the Morton Arboretum. Andi writes here about a huge collaborative effort on invasive insects and diseases that she is involved in.  All of the guest articles can be viewed HERE.

The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases
by Andi Dierich, Illinois Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator,

The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases is a collaborative effort to pursue change in policies and practices around non-native forest pests and pathogens. Recognizing that invasive pests threaten our valuable urban and rural forest, the Dialogue holds meetings among stakeholders to discuss issues and ideas and brainstorm solutions.

The urban and rural forest is an important green feature of our landscape employing more than 1.6 million people and adding $231.5 billion to the national economy. The environmental and aesthetic benefit of urban trees is significant in our ever changing landscape but continues to be threatened by the introduction of non-native forest insects and diseases. This byproduct of a globalized market continues to pose hurdles for managers and users of urban and rural forest alike, impacting several trades and stakeholder groups along the way. The Dialogue is a platform to seek and leverage opportunities to change policies and practices revolving around non-native forest pests and pathogens. The Dialogue collaborates with many partners across the U.S. These meetings have brought together many stakeholders, including The Nature Conservancy; the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; the US Forest Service; the American Nursery & Landscape Association; the Arbor Day Foundation; the National Association of State Foresters; the Society of American Foresters; the Society of Municipal Arborists; and The Morton Arboretum. A number of initiatives have resulted.

The Don’t Move Firewood campaign, aimed at educating the public not to transport firewood that may carry eggs or larvae of tree pests such as the emerald ash borer, came out of Dialogue meetings in 2006 and 2007. The multimedia campaign, which continues to grow, began with the launch of a website in 2008. It has now has reached nearly 6,000 people throughout the US through its Facebook and Twitter feeds alone.

Videos on the website have been recognized for their detail and presentation. Lurking in the Trees is a 2010 documentary that follows the city of Worcester, Mass., in its response to an infestation by the Asian longhorned beetle. It continues to be used in the campaign for awareness of the beetle’s threat. Trees, Pests & People is a section of the website featuring short videos that tell the stories of walnut, ash and avocado trees and their pests.

Recently, the Dialogue has contributed to the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities initiative. Now being implemented in Los Angeles, Tennessee, Philadelphia, and Boston, this Nature Conservancy program seeks to create environmental stewards to provide a first line of defense against invasive plants and animals as well as maintaining and caring for the trees that make up our urban forest.

The Dialogue also has created tools such as A Decision-making Guide for Invasive Species Program Managers and an outreach document for woodworkers and wood-turners on how to avoid spreading invasive pests in the wood they use.

The 2013 Continental Dialogue took place November 4 and 5 in Pittsburg in conjunction with the Arbor Day Foundation Partners in Community Forestry Conference. The Dialogue welcomed new partners including Davey Tree and the American Public Gardens Association Sentinel Plant Network.

Among the presentations two are especially worth noting:

The American Firewood Producers and Distributors Association will soon announce a new certification program for sanitation of wood products above the current level required by the International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures No. 15. This means that the clients of AFPDA—big box home centers and other retailers—stores will now play a critical role in preventing the spread of pests and diseases through firewood. It also will require changing the messaging of the Don’t Move Firewood campaign to include “buying certified” wood.

The second presentation, focused on nurseries. The National Plant Board is drafting and organizing a voluntary certification process for the nursery trade. This certification, which takes a system approach, ideally would allow for greater pest and pathogen control by increasing checkpoints in the pathways by which infected plants move. By harmonizing international and national best practices and regulations, it likely would make the transfer of nursery stock from one area to another more seamless.

The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases still is seeking new ideas and partnerships to continue efforts to control invasive pests and pathogens. Sign up to receive alerts and other information about the dialogue’s activities.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2014 Invasive pest awareness workshops will focus on emerging oak pests and diseases

Source: Stephanie Porter, 217-244-3254,

News writer: Stephanie Henry, 217-244-1183,

URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension has announced the dates for its Illinois First Detector Invasive Pest Workshops covering important landscape and nursery pests, diseases, and invasive plants. Workshops will be offered at six locations in Illinois beginning January 2014.

The focus of the 2014 workshops will be on potential oak threats in Illinois. Each location will have sessions devoted to emerging and current oak pests and diseases such as the Oak Splendor Beetle, Goldspotted Oak Borer, Sudden Oak Death, and others.

A session will also be devoted to invasive plants introduced as ornamentals, such as burning bush, Bradford pear, and Japanese barberry. A discussion will be held on the use of alternative, non-invasive ornamentals that could be utilized within the landscape.

“Early detection and response is the key to managing invasive pests, diseases, and plants. The Illinois First Detector Workshops are aimed at improving first detector training and invasive species awareness,” said Stephanie Porter, a U of I Plant Clinic diagnostic outreach specialist.

Much like the initial workshops in 2013, these in-depth training sessions will cover material that includes:

• Identification/detection
• Life cycle/biology
• Hosts
• Sampling
• Management
• Commonly confused look a likes

Once again, those attending will also take part in hands-on activities, which will allow attendees to examine these pests and diseases in more detail.

“New this year, will be a session devoted to safeguarding and regulation, and how these actions play a crucial role when it comes to invasive pests and diseases,” said Kelly Estes, U of I state survey coordinator of the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS). “This information will help to address some very interesting questions that were raised last year.”

The target audience includes certified arborists, tree care professionals, master gardeners, master naturalists, forestry and natural resource professionals, conservationists, and others with an interest in trees.

An application has been made for the following Continuing Education Units (CEUs): IAA Certified Arborists, Continuing Forestry Education Credits, Professional Landcare Network, and Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America.

Workshops will be held at the following locations:

• Peoria, Jan. 14 - Illinois Central College
Contact: Rhonda Ferree,

• Collinsville, Jan. 16 - Madison-Monroe-St. Clair unit branch office
Contact: Sara Ruth,

• Murphysboro, Feb. 20 - Jackson County Extension office
Contact: Sonja Lallemand,

• Rockford, Feb. 27 - Klehm Arboretum,
Contact: Candice Miller,

• Decatur, March 12 - Macon County Extension office
Contact: Jennifer Nelson,

• Joliet, March 27 - Will County Extension office
Contact: Richard Hentschel,

Those interested in attending should contact the host locations above for registration. A $40 non-refundable registration fee covers instruction, on-site lunch, and training materials. Space is limited.

This workshop is supported by an Extension IPM Coordination and Support Competitive Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and coordinated by Stephanie Porter, Plant Clinic diagnostician and outreach coordinator, Department of Crop Sciences and Kelly Estes, state survey coordinator, IL CAPS Program at the Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute. Additional support for this program will be provided by Christopher Evans, the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan - invasive species campaign coordinator, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Scott Schirmer, plant and pesticide specialist supervisor, emerald ash borer program manager, Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Illinois Anglers Encouraged to be on the Lookout for Eurasian Ruffe in Illinois Waters

Eurasian Ruffe - USGS
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is asking for anglers to be on the lookout for and help with reporting any findings in Illinois waters of Eurasian ruffe, an aquatic nuisance species that has been in the Great Lakes since the mid-1980s.

Eurasian ruffe (also known as ruffe or river ruffe), an eastern European species, has been found in western Lake Superior since 1986, and has been one of the most dominant fish in bottom trawls in channels within the Duluth-Superior Harbor. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office monitored the expansion of ruffe populations and the species’ range across Lake Superior.

“To date, fishery management agencies have not witnessed any significant impact on native fish species like yellow perch and walleye in the areas where ruffe populations have become established and are quite abundant in our bottom-trawl surveys,” says Mark Brouder, Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office Field Supervisor.

A recent basin-wide survey by the University of Notre Dame, Central Michigan University, and The Nature Conservancy has found Eurasian ruffe DNA in water samples taken over the past year from Calumet Harbor in northeast Illinois. This sampling is designed to use an analytical technique to detect species by filtering the water and detecting DNA that organisms leave behind. In fish, the DNA may be in slime, urine, or fecal material. The initial conclusion from the Calumet Harbor water samples did not detect ruffe, but follow up analyses suggest that ruffe environmental DNA (or eDNA) may be present in a small portion of the samples.

“Calumet Harbor is a vibrant harbor with international and intra-lake shipping present,” said Kevin Irons, Aquatic Nuisance Species Program Manager for the Illinois DNR. “The detection of Eurasian ruffe DNA is not all that surprising, given that ruffe has been in the Great Lakes for decades. Illinois DNR monitors Calumet Harbor annually, and we have certainly been aware of ruffe in the basin. To date, we have not captured any ruffe, and in fact we don’t believe Eurasian ruffe are established anywhere in southern Lake Michigan”.

Environmental DNA surveillance has been used to heighten efforts regarding Asian carp detection; however, the relationship between eDNA and live fish presence has not been fully understood.

“Certainly, eDNA can come from swimming fish, but alternatively eDNA can be transported by birds, boat hulls, fishing nets, and other mechanisms,” said Kelly Baerwaldt, joint U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/USFWS eDNA Program Manager. “Because Lake Calumet is such a busy port, lake freighters from infested regions could simply discharge water and enable detections. Although 85% of eDNA breaks down in the environment quickly, within a few days, the remaining small portion can remain detectable for up to a month.”

The Illinois DNR will continue to work with USFWS biologists who monitor the Great Lakes to continue sampling in the Calumet Harbor area to heighten sampling efforts for fish across the Great Lakes to look for Aquatic Nuisance Species. Illinois DNR monitors Calumet Harbor throughout the summer with electrofishing. The Illinois Natural History Survey monitors near-shore waters of Lake Michigan with micro-mesh gillnets, noted as a preferred gear for catching ruffe. To date, Illinois officials report NO Eurasian ruffe have been seen or reported from Illinois waters.

“The Illinois DNR urges anglers to report fish that may be ruffe, as they may be taken while fishing for yellow perch or other fish in the Calumet Harbor area, or anywhere in waters surrounding Chicago,” IDNR’s Kevin Irons said. “A clear cell phone picture of the fish from several angles can help in identification, or you may simply put fish in a ziplock/plastic bag and freeze it. This species is listed as injurious, so these fish cannot be transported alive in Illinois. If found, please note specifically where the fish was caught and include time and date information.”

To stop the movement of all aquatic nuisance species, sportsmen and women are reminded to ‘Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers’ and ‘Be a Hero – Transport Zero’ by following three simple steps: 1) Remove plants animals and mud from equipment; 2) Drain all water from your boat and gear; and 3) Dry everything thoroughly with a towel.

To find out more about the Eurasian ruffe, check the USGS Non-indigenous Aquatic Species website at

Be A Hero – Transport Zero campaign video can be found at

To report Eurasian ruffe locations or other Aquatic Nuisance Species, please call the Illinois ANS Program office at 217-785-8772.