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Invasive Animals and Insects of New York


Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis)
     The emerald ash borer was first discovered in the United States in 2002 in southeastern Michigan This Asian beetle infests and kills North American ash species (green, white, black, and blue ash). The adult beetles are roughly 3/8 to 5/8 inch long and have metallic green wing covers and a coppery red/purple abdomen.
     Adult beetles may be present from May-September, but are most common in June and July. Each female lays approximately 30-60 eggs during an average lifespan. The eggs are deposited individually in bark crevices. Once the larvae hatch they chew through the bark and into the phloem and cambial regions of the ash trees. It is this activity that eventually leads to the death of infested trees. The larvae feed on the phloem for several weeks, creating serpentine galleries (S-shaped) which effectively girdle the tree. Unable to transport the nutrients that it requires, the ash tree usually dies within 2 to 4 years of becoming infested.
     There are some signs and symptoms that may develope in cases of emerald ash borer infestation. The tree canopy may become increasingly thin as foliage wilts and branches die back. The trunk may exhibit jagged holes left by woodpeckers feeding on the ash borer larvae. Small, "D" shaped exit holes may be observed on the trunk where adult beetles have emerged. And epicormic shoots and branches may sprout on the trunk or branches. Emerald ash borer is a serious threat to North America's native ash tree populations. If you notice any of these signs/symptoms on an ash tree notify your state Department of Agriculture, State Forester, Cooperative Extension Office, or local Conservation District.
If you have any questions or have discovered a possible emerald ash borer infestation additional information can be found at:
www.dec.ny.gov and search "emerald ash borer"
Call NYS DEC at 1-866-640-0652
Contact your county's Cornell Cooperative Extension

The Monroe County Emerald Ash Borer Task Force
The Monroe County Emerald Ash Borer Task Force (MCEABTF) is a volunteer organization of forestry professionals, scientists, natural resource managers, local officials, and private citizens. The MCEABTF has organized to facilitate a science-based response to the economic, ecological, and public safety impacts within the forests and communities of Monroe County. If you would like to assist in the goals of the MCEABTF please contact Mark Quinn at: markquinn@monroecounty.gov
The MCEABTF has created an informational flyer to help residents identify and assess the risks of EAB in their community. It can be viewed HERE.
Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)
     Native to Eurasia, zebra mussels were introduced to the United States through ballast water dumping from ocean-going vessels from Europe. They were first discovered in 1988 in Lake St. Clair, located east of Detroit between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. After their initial introduction, zebra mussels spread rapidly throughout the Great Lakes region and the large, navigable rivers from the Mississippi east. Barge traffic helped to disperse the zebra mussels initially, while recreational activities (boating and fishing) have contributed to more recent, continued spreading.
     Zebra mussels are primarily algae feeders, and do so by filtering the water. Their rapid spread, and high population numbers have allowed them to outcompete many native mussel species. By anchoring themselves to native mussels species they make it impossible for the native mussels to function. Serious economic impacts have also resulted from their introduction. Many powerplants and water users have spent millions of dollars cleaning out zebra mussels from their facilities, while millions of dollars have also been spent on retrofitting facilities with devices designed to keep zebra mussels out.
     With female zebra mussels capable of laying over one million eggs in a spawning season, and the larvae being microscopic, controlling the spread of zebra mussels is extremely difficult. Good boat hygiene is encouraged. This involves washing your boat with warm, soapy water, not transporting water from live wells/bait buckets from one waterbody to another, and disposing of livewell/ballast water and bait on land or in the trash.
Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus )
     The round goby was introduced to the Great Lakes from the Black Sea via freighter ballast, with large populations establishing themselves in Lake Ontairo and Lake Erie. Round gobies perch on rocks and other substrates to hunt, and have a well developed sensory system allowing them to feed in complete darkness. This enhanced sensory system gives them an advantage over other fish in the same habitat. Zebra mussels may have also facilitated the invasion of the round goby by providing an abundant food source.
     A major impact of the introduction of the round goby is the decline in the number of native fish species in areas where the round goby has become abundant. Economic and environmental impacts have resulted from this species agressive predation. The State of Ohio shut down the smallmouth bass fishery in Lake Erie during the months of May and June. When male smallmouth bass are removed from nesting sites, round gobies immediately invade and have been known to eat up to 4,000 eggs in fifteen minutes. With the months of May and June accounting for half of the total smallmouth catch in Lake Erie, there will be a considerable loss in funds generated by local fisheries.
     There are steps you can take to help control the spread of the round goby. Inspect and remove aquatic plants, animals, and mud from your boat, motor, and trailer. Drain the water from your boat, livewell, and bilge before leaving any water access. Never dumb live fish from one body of water to another. Proper identification and monitoring is crucial to help bioogists control the spread of the round goby. Sightings can only be confirmed by identification of the captured fish. If you catch a round goby, kill it and preserve it either in alcohol (grocery store rubbing alcohol) or by freezing it. Then contact your state fisheries management agency or Sea Grant Institute.
Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)
     The sea lamprey is parasitic fish that has contributed to the demise of native lake trout populations in the Great Lakes. Lamprey are eel-shaped fish with a skeleton made of cartilage and they belong to a relic (primitive) group of jawless fishes called Agnathans. The sea lamprey has smooth, scaleless skin and two fins on its back (dorsal fins). The sea lamprey is parasitic; it feeds on other fish, using a suction disk mouth filled with small sharp, rasping teeth and a file-like tongue. These are used by the sea lamprey to attach to a fish, puncture its skin, and drain its body fluids.
    Sea lamprey have a complex life cycle. The first four years of their life are spent as ammocoetes - a blind worm-like larval stage - in the soft bottom and banks of waters that flow into Lake Champlain. They then transform into the parasitic adult stage and enter the lake to feed on landlocked Atlantic salmon (salmon), lake trout and many other fish species; which they prefer due to their small scales and thin skin. After twelve (12) to twenty (20) months in the lake the adults migrate back into the streams flowing into the lake to spawn, after which the adults die.
    Adult sea lamprey attach to a host fish, rasp and puncture its skin, and drain its body fluids, often killing the host fish. Their preferred hosts are salmon, lake trout and other trout species, however they also feed on other fish species, including lake whitefish, walleye, northern pike, burbot, and lake sturgeon. Due to the negative enviromental and economic impacts that sea lamprey have had on native fish populations and fisheries, it has been determined that sea lamprey populations should be controlled. Physical (barrier) and chemical (lampricides) control measures have been instituted to control sea lamprey populations in the Great Lake regions. Any sea lamprey sightings should be reported to the National Invasive Species Hotline at: 1-877-STOP-ANS (1-877-786-7267).
Feral Swine (Sus scrofa)
     Also known as feral pigs and wild boars, feral swine are intorduced Eurasian boars that have either escaped or been released from captivity. Eurasian boars were introduced to North America as early as the mid 1500's, with other wild Eurasian boar races being introduced during the 18 and 1900's for hundinting. Populations of feral swine in NYS are most likely resulted from escaped and abandoned Eurasian boars that were kept on hunting preserves. The feral swine often resemeble domestic pigs as they readily crossbreed with domestic varieties.
     Breeding populations of feral swine have been confirmed in Cortland, Onondaga, and Tioga Counties, with sightings in several Southern Tier border counties with Pennsylvania. Feral swine can breed at any time of the year. Females are sexually mature at 1 year of age. With a gestation period of 115 days, litter sizes ranging from 1-8 piglets, and an ability to adapt to a wide range of food/weather conditions, feral swine can triple their population in a year.
     There are a number of negative impacts that feral swine have on the envrionment, agriculture, and humans. Feral swine are responsible for the destruction of agricultural land, capable of tearing up acres of crops and agricultural field in a matter of days in their search for food. In addition to destroying agricultural fields and crops, they also destroy wildlife habitat and compete with native species for food. Feral swine also carry diseases which are transmittable to both domestic pigs and humans. Their activities often foul water supplies and contribute to water quality issues. Possessing tusks of up to 5 inches, feral swine have also been know to display aggressive behaviour towards humans, with the potential to cause physical injury. They are known to defend their young aggressively; contact should be avoided!
     Management of feral swine in NYS involves hunting and trapping. Anyone with a small game license may hunt and keep feral swine year round with no limit. For larger groups trapping is recommended, which requires special coral traps with heavy metal fencing. To prevent the spread of disease, plastic/rubber gloves should be worn when field dressing or handling trapped or hunted swine. To assist resource managers please report any sighted, shot, or trapped feral swine to the NYS DEC Wildlife Office at  http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html
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Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District
145 Paul Road, Building 5 
Rochester, New York 14624
Phone: 585-753-7380
Fax: 585-753-7374
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Page last updated: May 6, 2013