DNR - Entomology Weekly Review, Sept. 25


Weekly Review for September 25, 2018

Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology
Phone: (317) 232-4120
Our Website
Inspector Territories

This informal report by the Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology is designed to update the Nursery and Greenhouse industry of insect and disease pests the Division has been encountering on a week to week basis and as a way to give a “heads up” of things to be on the lookout for. 

Links can be found at the bottom of the page to manage your subscription to this list. Comments and questions about this report are welcome and can be sent to Eric Biddinger or to your respective Inspector.

Vince Burkle (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) - VBurkle@dnr.IN.gov

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call about a scorpion found on the front door of a residence in northeastern Allen County. I’ve had calls about scorpions before and they’ve always turned out to be crawdads, but I asked that a photo be sent to me anyway so I could verify it. This time it was in fact a scorpion. Indiana doesn’t have any native scorpions so I immediately began contemplating how one may have found its way here. After some emails and research I discovered that scorpions can easily be introduced to new areas when people travel. They are very reclusive and can hide in luggage, or other items that unsuspecting travelers take with them, or take home with them while on vacation.  There are also a few species of scorpion native to the southern and southeastern U.S., with one in particular being reported from several counties in Kentucky.

The original photo of the scorpion I received didn’t have anything in it to reference size so I was envisioning a 4” scorpion with a potentially lethal sting. I arranged to pick up the specimen and when the homeowner brought it out it was 1¼” long. I took it back to my office and began trying to identify it and keyed it to the genus Vaejovis. I have no experience with scorpion identification (and never thought I’d need to) and I wasn’t confident in my identification so I sought out a second opinion. Gail Ruhl at the Purdue Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab asked around and recommended I contact Dr. David Sissom, a Professor in the Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences at West Texas A&M at Canyon. I emailed Dr. Sissom photos and he said it looked like Vaejovis carolinianaus, the southern devil scorpion. This particular scorpion is common in the southern and southeastern U.S. and is the same species that has been reported in Kentucky. It is not dangerous, but can pack a painful sting.

I contacted the homeowner to give her the news and after a bit of discussion found out her family had taken a trip to Georgia over the summer. With my new knowledge regarding scorpion habits and distribution it seems likely this one hitched a ride back to Indiana from there.


Ken Cote (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) - KCote@dnr.IN.gov

During the past 7 weeks I have primarily been working on control of kudzu which is an invasive vine that is causing serious damage to Indiana’s forests. Kudzu has been in Indiana for decades but continues to be problematic. Kudzu has a rapid growth rate and quickly over take an area. The only good thing about kudzu is that propagation and dispersal by seed is not as severe compared to other invasive species. 

Unfortunately a new invasive species called mile a minute weed (Persicaria perfoliata) has been found in Monroe County, IN. It was reported by a diligent INDOT contractor that is working to control invasive species. This is an aggressive, annual vine that has perfectly triangular shaped leaves, with thorns along the stem. A circular structure is also exists along the stems. The berries of this plant are bluish purple and are quite attractive. The good news is that mile a minute weed is annual. The bad news, it that birds love to eat the seeds and can aid in seed dispersal of this plant. The site has been treated and the area is being closely monitored for additional populations. If you see this plant, please let DNR Entomology know. Hedge bind weed, false buck wheat and morning glory can look somewhat similar before flowering or seed set, but the leaves of mile a minute are nearly a perfect triangle with thorns on the stem.


Kathleen Prough (Chief Apiary Inspector) - KPrough@dnr.IN.gov

I finally smelled goldenrod/aster nectar in hives inspected last week. This nectar has a very strong smell to it, best described as “dirty, smelly socks”. Once the bees cap this over and we extract it the smell is gone. The honey is a dark in color but has a milder taste than buckwheat honey. This fall honey has a tendency to crystalize up fast. This is one reason I do not take off goldenrod honey. 

I also like to leave this honey on for winter supplies as this is the last nectar flow we have in Indiana.  After the first frost the goldenrod will be done. Aster plants will take a few harder frosts to finish up.  With the extended warm weather, the bees will have longer to forage on flowers hopefully storing enough for winter supplies. 

There have been several reports of hives dying off in the last 2 weeks. Some reported the hive died overnight with lots of dead bees in the bottom of the hive. In one case, we could not find a nearby crop that may have been sprayed with a pesticide. I took a sample of dead bees and sent them into the Beltsville bee lab to get a varroa mite count and see if they had Nosema disease. The sample came back negative for both Nosema and varroa mites. This is strange! There was no brood disease found in the hive, no varroa mites and no Nosema. So we are not sure what killed this hive. 

Other beekeepers reported the bees disappeared. Late absconding from hives could be due to virus problems or queen problems. If the beekeepers sees the bees swarm from the hive, it is most likely a virus problem. There is slight chance of the old queen leaving, but it is a little late in the season for that. There have been plenty of queen problems this year. Hives not making a queen to replace a failing queen. The new queen could have been eaten on her mating flight, or did not mate with enough drones, etc. The queen failed and the beekeepers did not notice until too late. There are several things a beekeeper can do to get the hive queen right. That is a book chapter all its own.

I will be finishing up the 2018 Honey Bee Healthy Survey and some late inspections until the weather gets too cold. Hope everyone has a great fall.

No reports this week

Megan Abraham (Division Director & State Entomologist) - MAbraham@dnr.IN.gov

Eric Biddinger (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) - EBiddinger@dnr.IN.gov 

Eric Bitner (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) - EBitner@dnr.IN.gov

Kallie Bontrager (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) - KBontrager@dnr.IN.gov

Ren Hall (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) RHall@dnr.IN.gov

Phil Marshall (State Forest Health Specialist) - PMarshall@dnr.IN.gov

Angela Rust (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) - ARust@dnr.IN.gov

Jared Spokowsky (Nursery Inspetor & Compliance Officer)Jspokowsky@dnr.IN.gov

Kristy Stultz (Nursery Inspector & Compliance Officer) - KStultz@dnr.IN.gov

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.