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by Nancy Dennison, AEMG
Dr. Nate Walton, our MSU-E Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, shared his knowledge of Smart Pest Management. He explained how chemical pesticides were developed after WWII which worked for a while, then became ineffective and new pesticides were created. Thus new chemicals are constantly being developed. These days we are on the lookout for organic and non-toxic (to humans, bees, animals) methods to help us control garden and yard pests. Nate talked about the Japanese Beetle, Squash Bug, Rose Chafer, and the Colorado Potato Beetle. He also discussed non- chemical ways of trying to control pest damage such as crop rotation, watering wisely, netting and modifying the plant environment. Nate’s informative discussion was helpful and hopefully will lead us to better pest management in our gardens, small and large. Thanks so much Nate!
Identifying an Early Detection Invasive Species in Northwest Michigan
by Emily Cook, Outreach Specialist, Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network
There is certainly no shortage of invasive plants in northwest Michigan and most people are aware of the common species. Garlic mustard, invasive phragmites, Japanese knotweed, and autumn olive are just a few names that typically make one groan in frustration. These plants love to grow in disturbed areas, create dense stands, and out-compete many native plants which is detrimental to pollinators. However, at the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN), there is another category of plants known as “Early Detection” species. These are plants that have not yet been identified in the region but if they do appear, they immediately become a priority. The goal is to treat them as soon as possible, before they are given the chance to spread and become difficult to manage.
Early detection species in our region include amur cork-tree, black jetbead, butterbur, flowering rush, giant hogweed, and several others that are listed at www.habitatmatters.org. Another plant on that list is black swallow-wort and unfortunately, it was recently identified throughout the village of Kingsley after it was brought to ISN’s attention by a concerned citizen. Thorough surveying in the days following have revealed that the plants are growing beyond a single population and it will require community partnership to successfully tackle management.
Black swallow-wort grows extensively in southern Michigan and is found in Emmett County and into the Upper Peninsula. This population in Kingsley is the first one that has been identified in our region. While it shares the same characteristics as the aforementioned species that classify it as an invasive species, it has an additional trait that makes it especially concerning. Swallow-wort is a member of the milkweed family and acts like a “sink” for monarch butterflies. Even when native milkweed species are present, female monarchs will often lay their eggs on the invasive variety. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are unable to feed on the plant and die.
Swallow-wort can quickly spread over an area if not managed and ISN needs your help to get started! Most of the populations in Grand Traverse County have been identified on private property and we are seeking individuals who are willing to advocate for the plant’s removal and to share ISN’s messaging in relation to swallow-wort and its potential impact on monarch butterflies. If you are interested in helping, please contact ISN Communications Specialist Rebecca Koteskey, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identifying additional populations is also key and often, just as with this case, ISN needs input from community members! If you think you are aware of a black swallow-wort population, please contact us at (231)941-0960. Often called black dog strangling vine, it tends to climb around adjacent plants. One is more likely to notice it’s oblong, narrow, dark leaves which are somewhat waxy, over its flowers which are purple and tiny. Additional photos can be found at www.misin.msu.edu.
It is also important to note that there is a pale swallow-wort which looks and acts the same but has pale pink flowers – keep an eye out for this species as well!