Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three insect infestations converge on Southeast Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Three insect infestations are converging upon Southeast Missouri farms and forests, according to researchers at Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Agriculture.

The Japanese beetle, emerald ash borer, and gypsy moth are all exotic insects that have been present in the United States for an extended period of time.

They just haven’t been as prevalent in Southeast Missouri, according to agriculture professor Sven Svenson.

"Some people have described it as a bit of a biological perfect storm," Svenson said.

"We know these pests exist. There are researchers already working on control measures and have been for decades in some cases. The difference is, where we’re located in Missouri, we are on the pioneering spread of these pests that are spreading from the East Coast, and then there are some that are spreading from the north down this direction, some that are spreading from the West in this direction. And so being located right where we are in the Heartland, right in the middle of the country, they are all going to reach us all at the same time."

Svenson expects it will take between 2 and 25 years for complete infestation.

The Japanese beetle feeds on a wide variety of food crops. It is particularly attracted to legumes such as green beans and soy beans. The gypsy moth damages orchards and forests, while the emerald ash borer devastates ash trees.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

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