Guest author: Courtney Johnson, NCSU Extension Forestry
Midsummer in North Carolina brings lots of sunshine and high temperatures, and many people enjoy this warm weather by the pool. But did you know that while you’re splashing in the water and enjoying the sun’s rays, you can help save our trees?
The link between trees and pool water may not seem clear at first, but two pests that threaten plants are attracted to water and may end up in your pool filters and skimmers! The spotted lanternfly (SLF) and Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) are invasive insects that feed on many plant species. The SLF was recently discovered in North Carolina and it’s important that any future infestations in the state are found quickly. The ALB has yet to be discovered in the state, but it’s getting closer. For both pests, early detection is key to management. By checking your pools for these insects and reporting them if you see them, you can help protect our forests!
Both the SLF and ALB cause significant damage to plants. The ALB is a striking beetle which feeds on many species of hardwood trees but prefers maple. As the beetle feeds, it weakens and eventually kills its host trees. While it hasn’t been found in the state, this destructive pest is present in South Carolina, so it’s getting close! Similarly, the SLF is an insect that feeds on the sap of many plant species, including fruit trees and grapes. The feeding habits of the SLF make it a threat to North Carolina’s grapevine and wine industries. On top of this economic threat, the pest is also a huge nuisance as it invades in large numbers and leads to the growth of sooty mold from the honeydew that it excretes. The first SLF infestation in North Carolina was discovered during the summer of 2022 in Kernersville thanks to a citizen report.
Finding these pests in new areas early is incredibly important for managing them, so we need your help! While cleaning out your pool filters this summer, you can be on the lookout for these two insects and report them if you see them. You can report the SLF using the Spotted Lanternfly Reporting Form, and you can report the ALB using the Regulated Pest Reporting Form.
These pests can be found anywhere. Even if you don’t have a pool, you can still help by reporting them when you see them. If you aren’t sure whether the insect is ALB or SLF, you can snap a photo and upload the image. It is especially helpful if you can capture the specimen and store it in a sealed container.
So, while you’re enjoying summertime in North Carolina, keep our forests in mind and be on the lookout for the poolside pests! Check out the Poolside Pests website for more information on the ALB and SLF. Poolside Pests is a collaborative program between N.C. State University Extension, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Plant Industry Division and the N.C. Forest Service.