Science

Lobster mobsters, jumping plant lice, and more invasive species talks are coming

Lobster mobsters, jumping plant lice, and more invasive species talks are coming

Michigan’s recurring webinar series will return in January with conversations about invasive species that harm the environment across the state.

The NotMISpecies webinar series will continue in the new year with sessions that focus on both invasive plants and animals. Sessions will be on Jan. Feb. 18. 7, and March 21.

The first invasive species webinar will focus on an invasive type of knotweed that is native to Asia called Japanese knotweed, which can be found along roadsides, stream banks, woodland edges, and in wetlands. It grows aggressively in disturbed areas and crowds out native plants by limiting light and even releasing a chemical that suppresses growth of competing plant species.

The session on Jan. 18 will feature Marianna Szucs, assistant professor of entomology at Michigan State University, who will discuss her work with the knotweed psyllid insect – commonly called jumping plant lice. The insects are adapted to control different knotweed plant species, a type of biological control.

Invasive knotweed plant

Invasive knotweed growing along a fence in Grand Traverse County.

Szucs has also worked with a type of defoliating moth to control invasive swallowed-wort vineswhich is known to harm monarch butterfly populations.

The webinar in February will be about aquatic creatures sometimes called “mini lobsters” by Michiganders – invasive red swamp crayfish – that are known to quickly take over ecosystems. Lucas Nathan, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, will talk about recent advances in research and management meant to reduce red swamp crayfish numbers in southeast Michigan.

Finally, the webinar on March 21 will be a 2022 year in review update about the Michigan Invasive Species Program. Topics will include new discoveries of beech leaf disease and spotted lanternfly in the state.

Participants can sign up for the coming invasive species webinar sessions at www.michigan.gov/egle/outreach/not-mi-species-webinar-seriesas well as watched previously recorded sessions on topics such as phragmites, didymo algae, spongy moths, balsam woolly adelgids, silver and bighead carp, and more.

The spread of invasive species is an indicator of climate change and presents continued threats to biodiversity.

Related articles:

Bat species native to Great Lakes on the brink of extinction

Mercenary wasps battle fruit flies in Michigan cherry orchards, blueberry patches

Turtles caught in the Kalamazoo River oil spill, living longer after rehabilitation

Tribal and state Great Lakes fishing deal sent to federal judge for review

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