February 2017 Plant Pest Insider

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February 2017

MDA Confirms Swede Midge in Twin Cities

The Swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii) is a tiny fly (~2 millimeters long) that infests cruciferous crops such as broccoli, cabbage and canola. Swede midge was first discovered in North America in 2000 and is now known to occur in a number of states and provinces in eastern North America. The MDA has monitored for Swede midge for the past few years with support from USDA APHIS in community gardens and small farms in and near urban areas where the risk of pest introduction is greatest. During 2016, the MDA captured specimens suspected to be Swede midge in both Ramsey and Hennepin Counties and the identifications were recently confirmed by the USDA.

These finds are of concern for growers of susceptible crops but it may be some time before damage from this pest is evident. Swede midge was only found at two sites out of 90+ that were monitored statewide. The MDA will be working with the University of Minnesota and other partners to continue monitoring for this pest during 2017 as well as tailoring current management options for Minnesota growers.

Read more about the Swede midge at the MDA website.

Swede midge trap
Swede midge trap near garden plot

Emerald Ash Borer Field Workshops

EAB Field Workshop

Minnesota Department of Agriculture staff will be leading FREE emerald ash borer (EAB) field workshops soon:

  • Rochester, February 21-24
  • St Paul, February 27 - March 3
  • Superior, WI, March 7 - 9

The hour-long workshops will begin each day at 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM. They will provide a firsthand look at EAB-infested trees and build EAB early detection skills. General EAB biology, distribution, management and regulations will also be covered. Workshops are provided free of charge with support from the U.S. Forest Service.

You can register online, by emailing Jennifer.Burington@state.mn.us, or calling 651-201-6097. Maps and instructions will be provided with registration confirmation.


MDA Proposes Gypsy Moth Treatments for Spring of 2017

gypsy moth larva front view

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), in collaboration with federal, state, and local partners, is proposing to slow the spread of gypsy moth populations during spring of 2017. Surveys in 2016 revealed three distinct areas where monitoring traps caught a high numbers of moths. Treatment blocks have been identified and named for their geographic locations: Richfield in Hennepin County, Hinckley in Pine County, and Pine Creek in Winona County.

The MDA proposes to treat a total of about 1,120 acres of land with Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, or Btk, and about 1,751 acres with a pheromone that inhibits males moths from finding females and disrupts mating.

MDA is hosting three public open houses to share information related to these proposed treatment projects:

  • March 1, 4:00-6:30 PM, Sheridan Hills Elementary, 6400 Sheridan Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55423
  • March 2, 6:00-7:00 PM, New Hartford Town Hall, 42774 County Road 12, Nodine, MN 55925
  • March 7, 6:00-7:00 PM, Hinckley Community Room, 106 First Street SE, Hinckley, MN 55037

 For more information visit: www.mda.state.mn.us/gmtreatments

MDA Planning to Hire Gypsy Moth Trappers

The MDA will soon be looking for help with the upcoming gypsy moth survey season. Every year the MDA monitors thousands of gypsy moth pheromone traps to inform management efforts as part of a national program to slow the spread of this forest defoliator across the U.S.

These jobs are a great opportunity to work outdoors, travel to new areas, encounter wildlife and work independently.

Keep tabs on the State of Minnesota Careers website for the job posting. A single post will advertise all of the trapping positions available. The map below highlights areas of the state where help will be needed.

Counties where gypsy moth trappers are needed
Areas where gypsy moth trappers are needed is shaded in green.

Registration Open for Forest Pest First Detector Workshops

first detector patch

New this year the First Detector Program will be incorporating a flipped classroom approach for our face-to-face workshops with significant technical and species specific content provided before the workshop through the University of Minnesota's online learning platform, Moodle. This will allow workshop participants more hands-on time with pest displays, time to talk and brainstorm with content specialists and more peer-to-peer learning during the workshop. In addition, the digital content, available in Moodle, will be accessible to all Forest Pest First Detectors (including those that completed the program since 2008) after the workshops. So you can revisit and share this great content more easily. 

As always, anyone interested in forests and trees including foresters, arborists and master volunteers (who are comfortable with tree identification) are welcome to attend a FPFD workshop and hopefully become FPFD volunteers.

For additional information on the Forest Pest First Detector program and to report forest pests visit our website.

Two Forest Pest First Detector Workshops will be held this spring:

  • Thursday, March 2, 2017, 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Cloquet Forestry Center, 175 University Road, Cloquet, MN 55720
  •  Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM. Oakdale Discovery Center, 4444 Hadley Ave N, St Paul, MN 55128

Workshop registration is $50 and payable online. Registration is through the University of Minnesota.

Emerald Ash Borer Parasitoids Recovered from Fort Snelling State Park

Tetrastichus planipennisi adult by fingernail
Tetrastichus planipennisi, a parasitoid of the emeral ash borer


Emerald ash borer parasitoids are tiny, stingless wasps which lay eggs in or on life-stages of EAB, consuming the EAB life-stage as they develop. The MDA has worked with USDA APHIS and other partners to establish these natural enemies of EAB in Minnesota.

A primary goal has been to find better ways to monitor for the wasps to help understand what impact they are having on EAB populations. This summer the MDA worked at Fort Snelling State Park, which is a site where the parasitic wasps have been released in the past, to monitor for the wasps using yellow pan traps. These traps are simply shallow yellow bowls filled with clear propylene glycol (low toxicity antifreeze). The color is attractive to the wasps which become trapped in the fluid.

This monitoring method worked quite well as several wasps from one of the released species (Tetrastichus planipennisi) were recovered. The trapping provides a more efficient way to determine if T. planipennisi is active at sites where it was released in previous years. The alternative is debarking trees to search for parasitized EAB larvae which is very labor intensive.

Work to introduce and monitor populations of EAB parasitoids has been supported by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. For more information on this work, visit the MDA website.

Shade Tree Short Course March 14-15

tree lined street

The 55th Annual Minnesota Shade Tree Short Course will be held March 14-15, 2017 at Bethel University, Arden Hills.

Registration is open at the Short Course website.

Weed of the Month

Oriental bittersweet wreath

The February Weed Topic of the Month is the "Cut Flower Pathway". Read more about this topic at the MDA website.