Over the past few weeks in the industry, news outlets have been reporting a new and surprising find in the state of Maine, the Lycorma delicatula. This pest is better known as the Spotted Lanternfly.
While the insect is not a fly at all, but rather a plant hopper, it has made its way around the globe through its ability to attach itself and its eggs to trees, pallets, stones, and other materials that are often shipped.
This pest first arrived in the U.S. to the state of Pennsylvania in 2014 on a shipment from Asia. Since then the insect has also infiltrated several states within the U.S. including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. While individual findings have also been sighted in Massachusetts and North Carolina, there is no identified establishment of the insect. 
While the pest prefers the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) they are also known to “settle” for about 70 other plant species. These other species include varieties that produce fruit as well as trees that are often used for timber. 
The pests destroy the plants they inhabit by feeding heavily on them and result in the trees oozing sap, leaves curling, and to suffer from dieback (progressive death of the twigs, shoots, and branches of the tree). The damage that the insects cause makes it easier for secondary pests to come in and kill the tree after the lanterfly has significantly weakened them.
Another way that this pest damages plants is in the sugary substance called ‘honeydew’ that they leave behind while feeding. The residue attracts ants, actual flies, and other insects that feed on the substance.
The pest is believed to have arrived in the state of Maine through trees from the state of Pennsylvania, as these trees are where the eggs masses have been identified. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has identified that the egg masses were found on the trees, but hatched adult stages of the insect have not been spotted.
The grown insects are about an inch long with a greyish brown body. They have black spots on their wings, and red underwings. Their egg masses are rectangular with a yellow-brown-grey wax coating on them. The eggs are about an inch long and may be found on any flat surface.
They are asking residents of the state to keep their eyes open for sightings of eggs or adult versions of the pest. Any sightings should be reported to [email protected].
While the state of Maine continues to seek out every nook and cranny for the pests, in other states, scientists are working diligently to identify solutions against them.
Some states have begun breeding predatory species to combat the pest, while others are looking to treatment solutions. But, ultimately the question is being raised as to if, when, and how these pests may spread and affect more states.
For treatments, natural resolutions such as Neem oil are effective in discouraging the insects. However, for an abundance of them chemical treatment methods may be more effective.
While scientists continue to search for effective solutions, quarantine protocols and thorough inspections are essential to preventing the spread.
To learn more how we can help protect you from the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly be sure to contact us below!
Throughout the world, there are a number of afflictions that can plague plants of all shapes and sizes. As time continues to pass, plants continue to change. Each change will often lead to an evolution that will potentially combat their native threats. But, there is one plant family that seems to be increasingly in danger with each passing year, that time and evolution can’t protect.
The citrus family.
Last month we took a deep dive into what makes the two most powerful citrus states in the U.S. move. Now, we’re going to take you into the constant struggles these states face, as they combat a disease that has almost all but wiped out the global citrus supply.
This month, we’ll be talking about Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as Citrus Greening Disease. This disease has been responsible for compromising every citrus species throughout the globe. With an immense workforce behind the industry, it wouldn’t just be our countertops that could be left empty if the fruits simply disappeared, but also the stomachs and wallets of the millions of people it employs.
So, What is Citrus Greening?
Citrus Greening Disease, or Huanglongbing (HLB), is a far-reaching citrus disease that has impacted the entire world of citrus growing. Once a tree has contracted the disease, its fruit will appear misshapen and green, while having a bitter taste. Within a few years of the disease infecting the tree, it will die.
The name Huanglongbing means “yellow dragon” and pays tribute to the yellow offshoots that the tree will develop as a response to the disease. The name also recognizes the yellowing and greening effects that the disease will have on the fruits.
While the disease is not contagious to human beings, the threat that this disease presents is a threat to the citrus family itself. It is currently identified that Citrus Greening has the capacity to infect every type of citrus on the planet.
The disease is believed to have first emerged in 1919 in the Southern part of China.  From there the disease will continue to spread all the way to the United States by 2005 when it is first identified in Florida.
Since its arrival, “citrus greening has been responsible for a 90% reduction to the production of Florida’s most valuable crop” .
The active bacterium that infects the citrus plant is the Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las). Through the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri), the bacterium is spread infecting citrus plants or contracting the disease themselves.
Once the psyllid has contracted the bacterium for the disease from an infected tree, it will then infect healthy trees with the disease-causing their decline and the spread of Citrus Greening.
With few treatments available for the disease and no proven cure, conversations that surround Citrus Greening often focus on slowing the disease, and the extent of the damage that it has caused.
Measuring the Impact of the Disease
The impact that the disease has had on citrus trees has been overwhelming and dismal. In 2016, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture released a Fact Sheet that recognizes that as a direct result of Citrus Greening, we could see the destruction of the citrus industry within our lifetime.
Most severely hit, is perhaps the citrus state of Florida where they’ve seen a decrease in orange trees by 20 million, since 1966. In addition to oranges, the grapefruit trees have also drastically declined, to roughly a third of the 14 million that they used to be.
With a recognized impact of serious proportions, the USDA and citrus community fear that the devastation the disease can cause to California, would be just as grave.
California produces 80% of citrus fruits sold throughout the United States.
In response to the seriousness of Citrus Greening, regulatory efforts surrounding the citrus communities have amplified in hopes of slowing down the spread, and prolonging protection against it for those who have yet to be exposed.
The states that have confirmed Citrus Greening are: California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The states that have confirmed the presence of the psyllid are: Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin islands. 
So far the types of citrus that are identified to be at risk from the disease are: Chinese box-orange, Curry leaf, Finger-lime, Grapefruit, Key Lime, Kumquat, Lemon, Lime, Limeberry, Mandarin Orange, Mock Orange, Orange, Orange Jasmine, Pomelo, Sour Orange, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, and Trifoliate Orange.
But…Not All Hope Is Lost
With the disease continuing to spread and ravage the industry, citrus giants are beginning to see signs of hope through developments against the disease that could just possibly save their entire way of life.
While we previously mentioned that there is no known cure for the disease, we couldn’t bring anything to your attention, at this time, that didn’t come alongside a hopeful ending.
So, here’s the good news:
Researchers around the country have been working non-stop for years to examine every possible avenue that can expedite the discovery, management, and treatment methods for Citrus Greening.
At the University of Florida (UF) researchers have discovered that citrus trees grown “under oak canopies or alongside Oak (Quercus) trees, are healthy” . Whereas the citrus that is grown a few rows away from this structure often show signs of HLB.
This observation led to further interest from scientists and researchers that brought them to identify the affect that Oak (Quercus) leaf extracts have as a combatant against the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. Their findings identified that the leaf extracts from the Oak (Quercus) restored the leaves of the HLB infected citrus trees within their physiological parameters. This new discovery could quite possibly mean effective methods against the disease and perhaps greater longevity for the infected trees.
But, these discoveries and advancements haven’t come without a cost, and their own shortcomings. In August of 2019, the UF published an article that back pedaled the long believed “silver bullet” approach of antibiotic spray to fight against HLB.
They acknowledged that the practice of spraying oxytetracycline and streptomycin solutions may not be as effective as originally believed in combating HLB. But, what they did find was that trunk injections of the bactericides resulted in access to the cellular structure of the trees and their fruit that allowed the oxytetracycline to effectively combat the HLB.
But this isn’t all of the good news, finally, as we close out our article, we have one more amazing development against this deadly citrus disease. The first effective treatment, capable of controlling Citrus Greening.
On the west coast, in Riverside California, University of California at Riverside (UC Riverside) has developed the first ever treatment method with curative properties through the use of antimicrobial peptides.
The peptides derive from a molecule extracted from the Australian Finger Lime. Through 2 years of grueling research Dr. Hailing Jin was able to identify the relationships between the citrus variety’s resistance to the disease and combative properties needed to be successful in other citrus varieties.
Through the project’s successful trialing and development, UC Riverside has entered an exclusive, global licensing agreement to bring this treatment to market with the company, Invaio. The peptide treatments are needed a few times throughout the year, providing a cheaper and more effective solution in combating HLB than any other approach in the industry.
Looking to the Future
While developments continue, and there are no guarantees of success, it is important to acknowledge how this disease came to be so difficult. While there were a number of variables that couldn’t have been controlled, there were a number of variables that could have.
The important takeaway from this disease is that while the challenges have been great, our efforts make a difference both in prevention and in treatment.
As a plant lover, grower, protector, or admirer, it is our responsibility to ensure that our plants are being protected, and are protecting other plants.
When purchasing plants, be sure to ask what treatments your plant may have received before purchasing. Check to see if the plant is an invasive species to your region. And ALWAYS keep a watchful eye for signs of pests and disease.
Diseases like HLB aren’t just won and lost in a single battle in contributing to its spread. The war is won through continuous combined efforts of regulatory compliance, and company’s like Plant Sentry stepping up to do the right thing.
We’re always looking for new friends willing to do the right things for growers, consumers, and ultimately themselves. If you think you know one, or may be one of them, be sure to reach out to us below and tell us more about yourself!
 Bové, J. (2006). HUANGLONGBING: A DESTRUCTIVE, NEWLY-EMERGING, CENTURY-OLD DISEASE OF CITRUS. Journal of Plant Pathology,88(1), 7-37. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41998278
It seems as if the year 2020 can’t seem to get worse, but every time I turn around, there it is, even worse. For small islands like that of Hawaii, 2020 has been particularly difficult to navigate. In addition to the threat of COVID-19 and the ravaging effects it could have on a small disconnected island such as itself, climate change has made the year even more challenging.
Invasive species are increasingly detrimental on small island communities like Hawaii, who have delicate ecosystems that are deeply connected through each organism and their participating contributions to the islands.
Due to the rapid increase of climate change, these invasive species are being given more advantageous opportunities to thrive and exist in these spaces.
In June of 2020, National Geographic Magazine published an article highlighting the different variables that have led to the blooming invasive population of the coqui. The brown tree frog is native to the island of Puerto Rico, where it is cherished and celebrated.
But on the island of Hawaii, this frog is responsible for the decimation of entire species of insects, birds, and plants. Hawaii has developed in such an isolated and delicate manner with unique properties that are a result of the distance between themselves and the mainlands.
As a result, when invasive species infiltrate quiet and isolated environments the impacts on the native species are devastating and tremendous.
But, Hawaii isn’t the only state whose National Forests have been struggling as a result of invasive species. Nearly every National Forest in the United States has been facing a challenging reality of depleted and changed ecosystems as a direct result of invasive species.
It is estimated that more than 6,500 foreign species exist within the United States. To resolve this issue, the United States Department of Agriculture spends around $2.5 Billion dollars annually to combat invasive species.
Despite the enormous bill that the U.S. Department of Agriculture foots annually to fight against invasive species, it isn’t enough. National Park workers need more than money to combat these species. They need your help!
When you’re out in nature and see an invasive species be sure to report it, and if you know the local capturing and eradication procedures, do your part to help eliminate the problem.
But, that isn’t all you can do. Using and suggesting compliance programs, such as Plant Sentry™, can help growers protect their customers and environments from numerous invasive species.
Do your part and suggest Plant Sentry™ and report invasive species!
 Photograph courtesy Dr. Steve A. Johnson, & Linkel, P. (2020, June 29). National parks are being overrun by invasive species. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/north-america/united-states/national-parks/invasive-species-threaten-native-plants-and-animals-visitors-can-help/
Compliance to some growers seems like it’s an exclusive right, reserved only for the large, nationwide operations with deep wallets. In our business, we’ve heard everything from it’s only for “small package” shipping, to it’s only for “wholesale” growers. But, really, it’s for both!
Compliance is often misunderstood as something that is one or the other when that’s simply not the case.
As the importance of compliance continues to become more urgent, programs throughout the United States have been developed to help nurseries of each and every size.
There is perhaps nowhere in this great nation that values the importance of compliance more than the West Coast. Specifically, California. Anyone in the industry can tout for the rigorous legislative initiatives the state has taken to protect their agriculture and garden industries.
To aid in this initiative, a program was developed in 2005 to help combat the invasive plant species sales in the state of California. The program focused on both the benefits to businesses, as well as the environment. The program is called Plant Right and has an extensive list of allies ranging from American Hort all the way to the Nature Conservancy.
The impressive relationships that this program has been able to forge speaks to the necessity and value that growers and their community gain from their initiatives. Through both educational and purchasing opportunities, the program provides a comprehensive, compliant approach to invasive plant species throughout the state.
Outside of invasive plant species and within all 50 states, there is a great need for compliance for growers. What if, grow locations could certify their operations and practices showing the industry they’re compliant?
SANC stands for Systems Approach to Nursery/Greenhouse Stock Certification and was developed through partnerships between more than 20 state agencies and the National Plant Board (NPB).
The program focuses specifically on the cleanliness of the facility and growing better plants. Through identifying critical points in their operation, growers can better protect areas where pests and hazards have the opportunity to enter their growing locations.
Once the critical points are identified, the growers implement a “Best Management Practice” to reduce their risk and exposures. These efforts target points of entry, shipping locations, and points of production where the plants may be under increased risk.
The program is currently being tested in 18 different facilities throughout 14 different states. It works for large, small, and even local growers in the U.S. The SANC certification can work for everything from healthier plants locally to shipping plants between states.
While the SANC certification is great and offers a number of ways for growers to increase their compliance efforts, there are still a number of areas of compliance that are still left exposed.
Plant Sentry’s development was inspired by SANC and its initiatives but wanted to offer even more comprehensive compliance. And thus Plant Sentry was born!
While SANC focuses on the facility of the plants, Plant Sentry focuses on the plants themselves. The Plant Sentry proprietary database contains a plant’s restrictive information applied to the different states throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The three main targeted areas of compliance are disease, pests, and invasive plant species. Through our compliance knowledge, we’re able to effectively evaluate your plant selections and advise on the potential risks each of them face. Through consultation services, we offer the extended opportunity to develop your compliance efforts and obtain proper certifications for each plant.
Additionally, emergency response is offered 24/7 to aid in navigating any outbreak or potential risk. Our expert compliance team prioritizes each client’s needs to ensure the best possible outcome for the plants and their growers.
No matter how you choose to begin your compliance journey, we’re glad you’ve started! As the industry continues to progress, growers are continuing to move towards meeting the market’s sustainable demands.
Compliance is a sustainable effort.
As your company considers its compliance journey, we hope to hear from you personally! However, we understand and appreciate that every journey is different. We stand by our suggestions for the other programs mentioned in this article and can only hope that it eventually will lead you to us. So if we don’t hear from you first, we look forward to when we do!
You’re visiting your favorite online nursery, browsing through the citrus trees, when it happens. Suddenly, your eyes catch the most beautiful Meyer lemon tree! You just have to have it!
You’re currently a resident of Florida and citrus is everywhere, you’re tired of being left out, so you add the tree to your cart and proceed to check out.
Suddenly a dark cloud settles over you. The plant is restricted in your area.
But WHY can’t this tree ship to you? You live in Florida and there are citrus trees everywhere, so WHY can’t this tree come live with you?
You begin to look at where the location of the tree you’re trying to order comes from. Upon closer inspection, you see that it comes from the other sunny state of California. Now you’re very confused. Why can’t I, in Florida, receive a citrus tree from California?
You may not know, but we do!
But First, A History Lesson
The story of citrus and its shipping regulations began long before your attempt to add a variety to your garden. The beauty of citrus fruits has been gracing humanity throughout the world since roughly about 2,500 years ago.
Originating from Southeast Asia the growth and development of citrus throughout the world has been strongly tied to its status of prominence and health.
In ancient times of Rome, the fruit was linked to both statuses of privilege and religious significance . In addition, many cultures remarked on the miraculous healing properties of the fruits and even in the United States were a huge component of the expansion of the fruit.
Citrus Growth in the Sunshine State
The first citrus fruit to arrive to the “New World” was via Christopher Columbus in 1493. It wouldn’t be until many decades later that citrus would make its way to Florida.
It’s believed in the mid-1500s that Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon planted the first orange tree in St. Augustine, Florida .
The optimal climate of Florida allowed for the success of oranges throughout the state and has resulted in a $9 billion dollar industry.
Florida now houses roughly 569,000 acres of citrus groves with more than 74 million citrus trees. That’s a lot, I mean, really, A LOT of citrus!
Through the 2018-2019 season, the University of Florida concluded that 9,181,000 cartons of citrus were packed. The economic contribution to the state of Florida was $6.5 billion dollars, with a tax share revenue of $139 million.
When it comes to drinking your orange and grapefruit juices, Florida is the state to thank! Unlike California, when it comes to fresh citrus juices, Florida provides the largest amount nationwide.
Citrus Growth in the Golden State
In other citrus growing states like California, the citrus industry wouldn’t develop until much later. Seriously, much later.
Almost 200 years after the first orange is planted in Florida, California finally gets its shot. In 1769 Father Junipero Serra planted the first citrus seed in Southern California .
Less than 100 years later, in 1841, William Wolfskill planted the first commercial orchard of California in what is now the center of downtown Los Angeles .
Over the next 50 years, the citrus industry of California would rapidly expand. By 1885 the state had 2 million trees growing citrus.
Ten years later that number doubled and the state was growing 4.5 million trees.
By the 2016-2017 growing season, citrus was valued at $3.389 billion dollars. While the overall economic contribution was $7.1 billion. The state of California’s GDP benefited $1.695billion from the industry while the estimated wage contributions were $452 milliondollars.
So next time, you slice up fresh limes, lemons, and oranges thank California! Unlike Florida, California is predominantly responsible for the fresh citrus fruits you buy at the store.
It’s All About the Growth Conditions
Around the world, growers plant and harvest citrus. The success of each plant isn’t determined solely by its genetics, but also by the environmental factors that nurture and stimulate the plant to keep it growing.
Growing citrus requires ideal growth conditions that can only be found in certain growing regions.
As of 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that 79% of the world’s citrus is grown in the Northern Hemisphere. The remaining 21% is grown in the Southern Hemisphere and predominantly comes from Brazil, who is the world’s largest citrus producer.
If you were to look at just a map of the locations for each of the regions that grow citrus you would quickly notice a pattern. No matter the country or location in the world, citrus regions are located in coastal regions.
In the U.S. our citrus growing region is known as the “Citrus Belt.” The region stretches along the southern coastal states and provides the ideal conditions for their citrus plantings.
Citrus is very specific to the type of conditions it prefers in order for it to be successful!
These conditions are sandy soil composition and no less than 50% sunshine daily. In addition, the planting location should have excellent soil drainage, and help protect the plants from wind.
Finally, Why You Can’t Ship Citrus From CA to FL
As we depicted at the beginning, it is common for purchasers of citrus plants to become easily confused about why they’re unable to receive a plant, based on where they’re located. With citrus growing in so many states, it only furthers the confusion when someone is told no, to something that grows practically in their own backyard.
But, what many people don’t know is that citrus for many decades has been battling a number of diseases spread specifically by the interstate/intrastate shipping of its plant.
Whether it’s a tree or a seed, the different parts of the citrus plants that have traveled are also the same pieces that threaten other citrus plants and their survial.
Currently, there are four different diseases that are widely regulated between states and countries to protect citrus plants. They are Huanglongbing or citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot, and sweet orange scab.
Each of these diseases is different, but each of them also has the potential to wipe out citrus growth in the United States.
This very threat to the citrus industry and the livelihoods of those who produce them has resulted in strict legislation passed both on federal and state levels to preserve the citrus industry.
The legislation and regulatory efforts are made in hopes to prevent the spread of diseases through quarantine, inspection, and eradication efforts. Each of the listed diseases leaves the fruits either susceptible to different forms of stunting or to poor fruit quality resulting in it being unmarketable.
As we’ve learned in recent months with the spread of COVID-19, diseases have the potential to spread rapidly, and unknowingly.
These dangerous factors are why it is so important to keep citrus trees in safe spaces!
The USDA advises that if you’re growing citrus at home it is best to keep the fruit and plants at home away from potential diseases, and away from healthy plants in case yours unknowingly has a disease.
Another important consumer request from the USDA is to acknowledge the quarantined counties and areas throughout the country where citrus diseases are being isolated . Don’t try to move fruit or plants from infested/infected areas and know that it’s for the good of the fruit.
How You Can Help
These citrus diseases are a stark reminder of the power of contamination and just how easy it can occur. These diseases were spread mostly by unchecked, unregulated plants throughout history. Now decades later, a number of people are threatened by the loss of citrus.
How can you help?
When ordering citrus online or in person, remember to buy from distributors and growers who are compliant within their regulations.
How will you know if they’re compliant? Compliant growers and distributors will have no problem discussing with you the safety precautions followed and the certifications that the plants adhered to, in order to be sold.
In addition to asking about their compliance efforts, take the time to learn about your local quarantine regulations. Knowing whether or not your county is under quarantine for citrus can help you prevent the spread of disease.
Another great way? Ask if they used Plant Sentry!
We pride ourselves on our compliance and regulatory efforts throughout the industry.
While we work with a number of clients who grow and sell citrus, we, unfortunately, don’t cover everyone in the industry. Be sure to ask the next time you purchase a lemon tree or other citrus varieties if they were checked using Plant Sentry
 Holland, B. (2017, July 31). How Citrus Fruits Became an Ancient Status Symbol. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.history.com/news/how-citrus-fruits-became-an-ancient-status-symbol
 Facts About Florida Oranges & Citrus. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/eat-drink/facts-about-florida-citrus-oranges.html
 Economic Contributions of the Florida Citrus Industry in 2018-19. (2020, August 18). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.floridacitrus.org/newsroom/news/economic-contributions-of-the-florida-citrus-industry-in-2018-19/
 Lee, S. (n.d.). The history of citrus in California. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from http://www.californiabountiful.com/features/article.aspx?arID=695
 Citrus Fruit Fresh and Processed Statistical Bulletin 2016. (2016). Retrieved 2020, from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i8092e.pdf
 Babcock, B. A. (n.d.). Economic Impact of California’s Citrus Industry. Retrieved 2020, from https://citrusresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/Economic-Contribution-of-California-Citrus-Industry21.pdf
 Yigzaw, P., Runciman, D., Gateley, D., Burchard, J., C., D., Trees, O., . . . Eldridge, M. (2020, August 12). Citrus Trees: Move It AND Lose It. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2014/08/25/citrus-trees-move-it-and-lose-it
Why You’re Seeing So Many Japanese Beetles In 2020
Have you ever wondered why there are many Japanese beetles one year, but not the next? 2020 has been a wild ride so far, but not to be outdone, the Japanese beetle population has also seen an uptick in cases.
In our previous blog about Japanese beetles, we covered just how extensive the damage from these pests can be, as well as their lifecycle. But, what we didn’t tell you, was how you can prepare from year to year to drive down their population.
Overpopulating Your Plants
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves in finding the solution, let’s take a brief moment to refresh our memories of how these pests work and their optimal habitat conditions.
Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) take a liking to over 300 different ornamental and agricultural plant species. They’re primarily active as adults between the times of June 1st until September 30th. When the pest isn’t enjoying their flight season, they are underground in the larval stage for a 10 month period.
The habitat conditions that are considered favorable for these pests forthem to optimally grow is in wet/moist soil conditions. These conditions prevent the larvae from drying out. The moist soil also keeps many of the plants that the grubs prefer thriving through the changing seasons so that they may feed on the roots of the plants.
During their flight period, the beetles can fly within a 5-mile radius allowing them to mate and reproduce in different environments that suit their needs. While 5 miles may not seem like a lot, it is still enough distance for them to find new plants to destroy and new soils to infiltrate.
Somebody Stop ‘Em!
Understanding how the Japanese beetle works is an important part of defining the solutions to the pest. Whether it’s their expansive plant palate or their underground developmental phases, one thing is for certain, if left unchecked, the Japanese beetle could change the availability of the plants in the United States.
This spring the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Field Agronomists reported a higher count of grubs throughout the state of Iowa.  But, they weren’t the only ones! States that are commonly affected by this pest, such as, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, and Oklahoma also noticed an increase in the number of Japanese beetles throughout their states.
Despite growers best efforts, the Japanese beetle continues to present challenges in successful eradication from the United States. How is it that despite the best Integrated Pest Management plans, these beetles continue to rear their ugly heads year after year?
Determining the amount of a pest from year to year can be challenging for plant owners and growers alike. But, the answer may be slightly easier than expected.
Resolving the Problem
Like any organism on our planet, the Japanese beetle’s population is affected by the environmental and biological conditions of its habitats. This means that everything from how much rain falls within the seasons, to how many predators are present will affect the size of the Japanese beetle population.
Taking note of these factors and accounting them into our solutions will ultimately provide the most effective and expansive practices to remove the pests. Scientists and growers have already lifted a tremendous amount of the leg work to identify solutions in combating the growing beetle population.
In considering the environmental controls that can be implemented in order to fight the Japanese beetle there are a few different options to be considered.
The first is evaluating the environmental factors that are most reasonably out of your control, such as, how dry the soil naturally is. Since Japanese beetles prefer wet/moist soil conditions it would be unreasonable to think you could control the amount of rain that falls and affects your soil moisture.
However, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to evaluate how much water you use within seasons that grubs underground may benefit from. How much water that is retained in your soil will impact the grub/larvae habitat.
In addition, taking early note of dead patches of grass may indicate the presence of grubs in your soil and is recommended to treat the soil directly, but not always effective to treat for the grubs. With whatever grass treatment method you use, be sure to check with how this may affect your underground water supply.
The next solution to preventing an abundant Japanese beetle season is still within environmental controls. This time, however, the solution focuses on the types of plants that are grown, and their resistance to the beetle. If at all possible, consider rotating crops and planting plants that aren’t favored by the beetle, or are naturally resistant to it.
USDA APHIS recommends these top 20 Woody Plants as Japanese beetle resistant options :
1. Red maple Acer rubrum
2. Boxwood Buxus spp.
3. Hickory Carya spp.
4. Redbud Cercis spp.
5. Tulip poplar Liriodendron tulipifera
6. Dogwood Cornus spp.
7. Burning-bush Euonymus spp.
8. Forsythia Forsythia spp.
9. Ash Fraxinus spp.
10. Holly Ilex spp.
11. Juniper Juniperus spp.
12. Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua
13. Magnolia Magnolia spp.
14. Spruce Picea spp.
15. Pine Pinus spp.
16. Northern red oak Quercus rubrum
17. Lilac Syringa spp.
18. Yew Taxus spp.
19. Arborvitae Thuja spp.
20. Hemlock Tsuga spp.
They also recommend these 20 Herbaceous Plants as resistant against the Japanese Beetle :
By considering one of the selections above, your environment is automatically designed to have some degree of resistance against the pest and provide better habitation for other species.
The next factor to consider in battling a Japanese beetle infestation is predatory methods. Part of the success of the Japanese beetle in the United States is that its initial presence didn’t have a predatory species. Due to the natural biological lag in evolution and predation, species identification that would be combative against the pest has taken some time and serious amounts of patience.
In the current day and age of science, predatory approaches to control the pest have been identified favored in hopes to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, as well as hoping for increased effectiveness.
There are two types of predators of the beetle that are most commonly used for pest management. The first is the tachinid fly. This insect can be attracted by growing plants that the insect favors, or by directly introducing the species into your environment. The pest targets adult beetles, spiders, larvae, grasshoppers, earwigs, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, true bugs, and Japanese beetles.
The second predatory organism to consider is two types of insect-eating nematodes. The two nematodes that have been noted by the USDA APHIS team as most effective against the Japanese beetle are Steinernema glaseri and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora. The nematodes are roundworm parasites that eat the Japanese beetle grubs, removing them from your soil.
The challenge with using nematodes is that depending on where you send your plants as a grower, there are different restrictions against nematodes in plants.
Whether through the predatory methodology or through environmental efforts against the insects, there are a number of ways to combat the Japanese beetle. Through the continued efforts of growers and scientists, control and eradication of the pests ARE possible.
Taking the Steps to Eliminate the Problem
Part of the struggle of the Japanese beetle is being able to predict the considerable amount of variables that have made the pest such a success within their environments. The challenge that we face as growers and plant owners is to remain consistent and innovative in our efforts against the species.
While change doesn’t occur overnight, and evolution can take time to naturally combat this invasive species, it is our responsibility to take as many necessary avenues as possible to control and eliminate the species from our lands.
Our efforts cannot be limited to only chemical resolve, but also in biological resolutions. The impact that this pest has against our food and our habitats, is the compassionate consideration we need to make in our treatment efforts. The direct relationship from the environment that we create and the number of Japanese beetles we see are undeniable. But, it is not always an option to simply plant something else. Through our efforts we can reclaim our plants for us, and remove the Japanese beetle from the equation.
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 Author: Erin Hodgson Professor Dr. Erin Hodgson started working in the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in 2009. She is an associate professor with. (n.d.). Watch for Japanese Beetle Emergence. Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2020/06/watch-japanese-beetle-emergence
 Japanese Beetles and Natural Enemies. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://extension.umd.edu/ipm/japanese-beetles-and-natural-enemies
Japanese Beetle. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2020, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/pests-and-diseases/japanese-beetle/japanese-beetle
What started in 2012 amongst members of the “Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission” as moth nights, has grown into a national week celebrating the education and conservation of moths throughout the United States.
As the education and conservation of moths continue to grow, so do the number of participating states and countries throughout the world. Currently the event is registered in all 50 United States and 80 other countries.
Why Are Moths Important?
Moths are estimated to have been in existence for around 50 -70 million years . This timeline makes the moth one of the oldest and most successful organisms on planet Earth.
Besides being well established in our biosphere, moths are also recognized as bioindicators. Their abundance and vitality directly correlates to the health and well being of plants and in turn animals in their surroundings.
This point of contention has behaved as a driving force behind many insect conservation efforts for the better part of two to three decades.
In addition to being a strong indicator of a healthy environment, moths are also pollinators and just as important as the bees and butterflies that we glorify during pollinator’s week.
Where Can You Find Moths?
The focus of the National Moth Week is to recognize and promote beneficial moths in your local ecosystem. There are a number of activities all week long through your local extension office, Audubon society, and moth communities. 
To construct your own mothing experience, follow these few steps and enjoy an event in your own backyard!
First, hang up a sheet
Second, find a light source
Third, place the light source close by/behind your sheet to attract the moths, and give them a place to land
Finally, sit back and wait for the moths!
While there are a number of moths that can be viewed at night. There is also a significant amount to be found during the day. Until recently it was commonly believed that moths were unlike butterflies and only flew at night to avoid different predators. But, scientists in recent years have found that as few as 50 species of moths have changed their activity patterns to daytime.
Moths are everywhere, you just have to know where to look! During daytime hours, moths can be found in their preferred habitats of gardens with beautiful flowers, and anywhere that has them. The beauty and complex artistry of moth wings can often be mistaken for a butterfly.
Next time you’re out in the day, take a closer look and see if your favorite butterfly is perhaps a moth instead!
Other ways to attract moths include using ripened fruit, sugaring (rubbing molasses on a small section of bark), and wine ropes (rope cooked down in a pan with red wine and sugar). Identifying moths during moth week is half the fun.
There are a number of ways for you to become a moth expert, you just have to get started!
The “Other” Moths
We’ve spent the majority of this article explaining the importance of this week and the benefits of moths, but we wouldn’t be doing our part if we didn’t also mention the…”other” moths.
Here at Plant Sentry™ we know better than anyone, that while there can be a number of good pests out there, it only takes one bad one to wipe out an entire collection of plants. So while we’ve highlighted so many great things about moths in this article, we wouldn’t be following our ethics if we didn’t also warn you about the bad ones.
Almost all of the moth species that exist are beneficial, but just like that one guy in the fast lane slowing everyone down, there’s also that one moth species who isn’t doing any good in North America.
Introducing the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)!
If you haven’t heard about them before, then we’re really glad you decided to stop by. The Gypsy Moth is an invasive moth species to the North American region.It is classified as one of the most challenging pests to control and eradicate because of the number of plants that it can infiltrate, as well as their discrete biological way of spreading.
The threat that this pest most prominently proposes is the defoliation that it causes to its plant hosts. Most commonly they can be found in Oak trees, Sweet Gum, Willow, Birch, Apple, Boxelder, as well as many more.
They often leave their hosts in such a state that they become more susceptible to diseases and mortality. Additionally, the damage caused to the trees can increase the potential of wildfires due to the lack of moisture from the leaves.
Controlling the pest has been an ongoing challenge for growers since 1869 when the moth first arrived in Boston . The Gypsy Moth can travel as a larvae to new locations through what is known as “ballooning.” This is when the larvae produces a silk thread and it is carried by a strong enough wind that the insect is able to travel without flight. This spread facilitation in addition to the unintentional transfer by human goods allows the population of this pest to increase continually.
While there are different kinds of traps that can attract the pest, there is always the risk of increasing the population this way and making it more difficult in the long run. Additional methods that can be of benefit are chemical or biological solutions that eradicate the pest at the caterpillar stage.
The Plant Sentry™ Effort
Here at Plant Sentry™ we’re suckers for healthy plants. We genuinely can’t help ourselves!
A healthy plant is so much more than just a beautiful addition to a landscape. To us, a healthy plant signifies a healthy future in a healthy environment. Because of the efforts of thousands of moth species throughout the world, healthy plants are possible.
While there is one bad apple in the bunch, there are still thousands of other moth species that do great things for your plants and our planet. We recognize that providing diligent and valuable information is the backbone of success against invasive species and protecting species that are good for our local ecosystems.
Day in and day out we work hard at Plant Sentry™ to stay on top of the latest regulations so that when it comes to your plant’s health, we have the right answers for you. We understand that pests make their way in shipments, despite our best efforts. We’ve designed our services to understand nature and provide the best guidance to protect your healthy plants.
If you’re ready to take the next steps to protect your plants and business visit our Contact Us page to get started!
For growers around the world, there are certain seasons that can be more stressful than others. In the U.S. the challenges of the seasons are no different. With the ever evolving globalized market of the world, the challenge of keeping unwanted pests out seems to get harder every single year.
This challenge is especially difficult during their mating seasons when many pests reproduce and establish their damages for years to come. One pest in the United States is regarded with high priority for eradication and control methods.
Every year between June 1st until September 30th growers around the U.S. work tirelessly to seek an end to the damage from the Japanese Beetle. This time of the year is known as the Japanese Beetle Flight Season (Period).
Japanese Beetles- A History
As you could probably guess by the name, the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica)originated in Japan. Many, many years ago in 1916 Japanese Beetles were officially discovered in the United States near Riverton, New Jersey. However, it is believed that the pest made its way over on a shipment of Iris bulbs as early as 1912. 
Fast forward to the current year of 2020 and most states East of the Mississippi River have been infested by the Japanese Beetle. While partial infestations do exist West of the Mississippi, states on that side of the U.S. have taken strict precautions to protect themselves against the spread of the invasive pest. 
What’s the Big Deal With the Small Size?
While the establishment of Japanese Beetles is fairly well known at this point in time, many of you may still be asking “Why are these pests such a big deal?”
Japanese beetles can prove difficult to remove once they’ve established themselves at a location.
During their flight season, the beetle digs a hole in the soil and lays their eggs. The growing beetles, or grubs, will then spend the next 10 months in the soil before emerging. During their time in the soil the grubs devour roots and seedlings of good quality turf and vegetables. While the grubs prefer good quality turf and vegetables areas, they can survive in almost any soil conditions.
While the grubs wreak havoc below ground, above the surface the Japanese beetle can do just as much damage. As can be seen above, the Japanese beetle will eat out the green tissue between the leaf veins of a plant for feeding. This is consistent with their feeding pattern and not particular to one type of plant. While the plant may recover from the damage to their energy panels, or leaves as you may call them, the damage leaves the plant more susceptible to damage from other harmful insects and pests.
How Do I Know If I Have Them?
While the beetles are growing and in their grub stage, it can be difficult to know whether or not you have an infestation. But, above the surface things are much more noticeable.
The Japanese beetle tends to “appear out of nowhere.” One day you may have seen 0 pests, and the next day they may be overwhelmingly apparent! There are a few plants that, depending on region, may act as indicator plants, or plants that are of preference to the Japanese beetle. They can almost certainly be found in rose bushes of any kind, raspberry plants, Linden trees, Maple tree varieties, Fruit tree varieties, Elm tree varieties, Ash tree varieties, Oak tree varieties, grape vines, and many more.
When “planting” their eggs in the soil, the female Japanese beetle follows a fairly specific pattern. She will take flight in the afternoon. She will find moist soil conditions. She will then dig and bury her eggs 2-3 inches in the ground. From there the lifecycle of the Japanese beetle starts all over again.
But let’s take a step back to the identification of “moist soil conditions.” As I mentioned above, the Japanese beetle grubs prefer quality turf roots for feeding, because of this, the female beetle also looks to identify wet turf conditions for laying her eggs. The wet conditions are ideal and somewhat essential to the larvae stage of the beetle. It isn’t until the grubs are older that they are more drought tolerant, and before then it is pertinent to their survival. 
With all of the factors of preference for larvae livelihood considered, there are some key indicators that can help determine if an infestation is possible, or already exists. Moist irrigated turf areas are an ideal habitat for the grubs. When large portions of the turf die during times of hot and dry weather it can be a strong indicator that there is a larvae infestation.
Treatment Options for Japanese Beetle
The Japanese Beetle once fully grown only lives for about 30-45 days at a time. So, when treating for the pest, targeting the larvae stage is just as important as eradicating the adult stage.
With a feeding habit that includes over 300 different plant species, the treatment options for Japanese Beetles is just as vast as the types of plants they eat!
There are chemical options available using different active ingredients such as Bifenthrin, Chlorpyrifos, Imidacloprid, Methyl Bromide, Lambda-cyhalothrin, Cypermethrin, and many more. Many greenhouses are required by law to use different chemicals in order to ship their plants across state borders during the Flight Period.
This is seen as perhaps the most effective method against the Japanese beetle and is helpful in mitigation of the larvae stage, as well as the adult stage. However, because the beetles hatch in stages, while you may have sprayed one day for the insect, the insects may continue to emerge over time.
Other options for treatment include using traps that utilize pheromones to attract the insect, but you can end up with more insects than you started with. There are also pellets that can be applied to grass areas that target the larvae specifically. We personally prefer the slow release pellets that are designed to prevent groundwater contamination. Another option for treatment is to physically pick them off your plants and drop them in a bucket of water as they’re collected.
Whatever method of treatment you decide is right for your environment, be sure to do your research beforehand as to what is going to be best for your plants and their surroundings. The ultimate goal is to always have the healthiest plants, and too much of one thing can lead to not enough of another.
Plant Sentry™ Involvement
We like to think we’re kind of a big deal, and honestly it’s because we are! When it comes to pest mitigation the Plant Sentry™ experts work year round to stay up-to-date with the latest pest treatments. With involvement of different plant boards around the United States, members of Plant Sentry™ strive to stay up-to-date on the latest treatment methods for the Japanese Beetle.
With our expertise we’re sure to help you ship the healthiest of plants. To learn more about how you can gain access to this information visit our contact us section!
It’s officially National Pollinator’s Week and we are ecstatic! Plant Sentry™ prides itself on helping make the Earth a better place for growing and sharing plants, so naturally, Pollinator’s Week is right up our alley.
While underestimated in their value and importance, the list of pollinators includes around 200,000 species. Besides insects like bees, butterflies and beetles; there are 1,000 vertebrates on the list such as birds, bats, and other small mammals. Because of their impact, pollinators are some of the most important species on the planet.
The Key to Pollinating
A large portion of the pollinator population is made up of what are known as keystone species. Keystone species are essential to the environmental survival of their habitats. Many times keystone species become compromised when hunting, habitat degradation, and agricultural pursuits alter their ecosystems in a way that the species can not keep up with.
If the keystone species can no longer survive its habitat, then the ecosystem it supports can no longer survive.
This is seen in the case of the world’s largest pollinator, the white ruffed lemurs. While they may be the largest pollinator, their home of Madagascar has undergone extreme environmental renovations over the past several years.Why are white and black ruffed lemurs endangered? Forest fragmentation and habitat loss have resulted in these pollinators being listed as critically endangered.
Pollination Can Get Batty
Lemurs aren’t the only pollinators at risk in our modern world. Due to recent innovations in wind energy bat pollination is also at risk. Wind farms are responsible for killing somewhere between 650,000 to 1.3 million bats between 2000 and 2011.
The bat species that are seen most at risk are the two federally endangered species of the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) and the Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis).  It is uncertain as to what exactly attracts the bats to the wind turbines, but scientists are working diligently to figure it out.
Over 500 different plant species rely on pollination by bats. Fruits such as bananas, guava, and mangoes wouldn’t flower without a bat and their love for nectar. Other important agricultural plants that bats pollinate are the agave plant, used for tequila and balsa trees, used for lightweight timber. 
The Buzzzziest Pollinator
In recent years, bees have finally been recognized for all of their hard work! The efforts of bee pollination add up to approximately $235-$577 billion USD in global food production, annually.  Bees are responsible for the pollination of goods such as apples, broccoli, cranberries, melons, and sometimes cherries and blueberries.
A combination of habitat loss, pollutants, climate change, the Varroa mite, bacterial diseases, travel, and irresponsible chemical usage all add up to be contributing factors that make it difficult for bee populations to survive in high numbers. The common solution that many humans turn to is becoming a honey beekeeper in hopes to boost the population. But, the honey bee isn’t the only bee. 
There are roughly 25,000 other bee populations on our planet.
Depending upon the food source and the environment of the wild bees, the honey bee could be invasive. While many of these species look similar to the honey bee, the ecosystems they sustain are often drastically different. 
Your Impact & Responsibility
As the human population continues to grow there is an ever-increasing need for more food.
Part of the critical role that pollinators have is pollinating a number of crops for humans. Due to the decline of pollinators worldwide, in 2016 it was reported that farmers in China had turned to pollination by hand.
To achieve the same pollination of their pear trees that had once been received by bees and other insects, people were paid to use a brush to exchange pollen from male to female trees. It’s estimated that a human can pollinate only 5-10 trees a day, merely a fraction of the amount bees can cover. 
This research led to the question of “What if this is our future normal?”
The idea that someday swarms of insects will no longer exist to fulfill the task of pollination raises many red flags. Beyond the scope of agricultural needs is the concept of ecosystem structure. As mentioned earlier, entire environments depend on the role of keystone species, and the species they affect in order for ecosystems to thrive and survive.
The policies and procedures that we as humans have used for centuries may have been enough in the past. But, looking forward to how humans interact with our planet and our environments, will depend on the change we implement and care we take to preserve and restore the damages we cause.
As attention has continued to be paid towards the decline of the pollinator population, humans are more eager than ever to lend a helping hand in rehabilitating these species.
Growing landscapes for bees and other pollinators is a great way to help recover the loss of pollinators without taking on too much work. Pollinator plants attract pollinators and give them the sustenance they need to keep moving.
While science is continually growing, it will be the responsibility of communities to implement the checks and balances necessary to keep our pollinators alive.
Plant Sentry™ practices this belief in the services we offer our clients in helping mitigate pests and protect against disease. It’s not always easy to decide what the right move is, but with our help, the load feels a lot lighter.
For more information on how you can help protect pollinators and your plants, be sure to visit our Our Services page to learn more about our practices. If you have questions or interest about our services, Contact Us for more information.
 Victoria A Wojcik, Lora A Morandin, Laurie Davies Adams, Kelly E Rourke, Floral Resource Competition Between Honey Bees and Wild Bees: Is There Clear Evidence and Can We Guide Management and Conservation?, Environmental Entomology, Volume 47, Issue 4, August 2018, Pages 822–833, https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvy077
 Farah, Troy. “While We Worry About Honeybees, Other Pollinators Are Disappearing.” Discover Magazine, 3 Aug. 2018.
As the weather continues to warm and the sun stays out longer, fruits and vegetables are growing bigger every day. Which is perfect, because June is National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month!
While the basis of this month is to focus on the health aspects that fruits and vegetables provide to the human diet. We can’t help but stop to wonder, what determines the health of our fruits and vegetables? And who’s checking up on this?
Piqued Your Curiosity?
Where our produce comes from is commonly related to what store we bought it at and where that store is located. Until the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the concept of how that produce got to the store, was lost on many of the people who ate it. And sure, we know it comes from a farm, and that farmers have to grow it, but where are these farms located? And what are their growing practices?How do I know that the health of their plants is going to mean health for my body?
Finding the Answers
Unless you belong to the farming and gardening industry the idea of plant sourcing may be outside your realm, simply because you don’t see it. But, that’s part of the reason why Plant Sentry™ is here. We exist to safeguard the shipment of plants, and well, fruits and vegetables are plants too.
So this month, we’d like to help answer some of these questions for you and give you some tools you need to answer these questions for yourself.
Where Do They Come From?
While California leads the U.S. states in domestic agriculture, the other 48 states make sure to do their part when it comes to farming too. 2 million other farms to be exact. While this seems like a lot, and perhaps that it should be enough, what may be surprising about this is that only about 8% of farms market their foods locally.
Many fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. are only in season for a few weeks out of a calendar year.
The Fruits of Labor After the Seasons Over
Once the U.S. growers finish out their seasons for fruits and vegetables the American consumer doesn’t end their want/need for the produce. Instead, the U.S. market imports fresh fruits and vegetables from all around the world to meet American consumers’ demand.In 2012 it was calculated that roughly 6.9 million metric tons of fruits and vegetables were shipped to U.S. Distribution Centers nationwide. 
So Are They Healthy?
The U.S. market for fruits and vegetables can be divided into 2 categories, fresh and processed. Deciding which market the farmer grows for determines how the produce is grown. If it is grown for the processed market, then the goods will meet the standards of that market. If the produce is grown for the fresh market, then they will adhere to the standards of the fresh market. The USDA monitors both of these markets and lists their standards for both categories here.
When it comes to the health of fruits and vegetables determining their values can be a little bit more challenging, because it requires a closer look. Fruits and vegetable benefits are evaluated by the nutrient density of the good and can vary slightly based on growth conditions.
The way the food is prepared and handled will also determine the overall nutrient density of the fruits and vegetables. But generally speaking, it is safe to follow the nutritional evaluations of raw fruits and vegetables from the FDA. 
Beyond the Label
Unless you’re purchasing goods from a local grower, knowing more finite information about the produce your consuming can be challenging. While the FDA requires the listing of the country on the stickers for fruits and vegetables, beyond that is considered proprietary business information.
The Green Industry Role
In the Green Industry, it can be challenging to find out information if you aren’t on the inside of the situation. When there are disease and pest outbreaks, our government officials often settle for only listing the affected state and not the company name. This is no different when it comes to the agricultural side of things and handling the safety of food.
In order to protect international business relationships, the same standard of discretion is applied to the produce industry. As Americans continue to populate and rely on these resources, it is the utmost responsibility of the government officials regulating these goods to protect not only those eating them but also those who grow them.
The Plant Sentry™ Role
Being a member of the Green Industry can sometimes be challenging. While we at Plant Sentry™ primarily focus on the health of plants and their shipping and restrictions requirements, we know that every piece of the puzzle is important.
How consumers purchase and select their goods plays into the giant game of chess that impacts the availability consumers have.
This is why we do and encourage everything we can in shipping and compliance of regulations to help growers be successful so that consumers can keep their variety.