Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants (RWU 4552)
Thank you for visiting the website for our research unit, “Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants,” part of the Southern Research Station Unit, USDA, Forest Service.
Our mission is to provide the basic biological and ecological knowledge and innovative management strategies required for management and control of native and non-native insect pests (including bark beetles and termites), pathogens and invasive plants in changing forest ecosystems.
Selected News and Events
October 21, 2015 on CompassLive
The U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station publication A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests provides a comprehensive identification guide to nonnative trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns and forbs currently invading forests and other natural areas of the southeastern United States.
The information included in the guide is also available as an application for iPhones, iPods, and iPads called Invasive Plants in Southern Forests.
September 22, 2015 on CompassLive
Since emerald ash borer was first detected in Michigan in 2002, the non-native invasive beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees across the U.S., and continues to infest new regions.
Within its native range in Asia, emerald ash borer is attacked by a variety of predators including several species of parasitoid wasps that specialize on the beetle's eggs or larvae. Because these wasps are expected to play a role in maintaining low emerald ash borer populations in Asia, three species have been introduced into North America as biocontrol agents. "There is great interest in knowing how effective these introductions have been in reducing the population growth rates of emerald ash borer in North America," says U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientist Michael Ulyshen.
July 16, 2015 on CompassLive
Sometimes you may not really want to find what you're looking for.
On June 11, 6th grader William David, along with his brother Bennett and mother Sherry, met U.S. Forest Service researchers Bud Mayfield and Bryan Mudder to set out traps along a greenway near the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) office in Asheville, North Carolina, for the walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis).
Not yet found in Asheville, the walnut twig beetle, believed to be native to the U.S. Southwest, carries the fungus (Geosmimithis morbia) that causes thousand cankers disease. The fungus grows under the bark of walnut trees entered by the beetles and forms multiple small cankers that cut off the flow of nutrients, killing the tree in as little as three years.
May 27, 2015 on CompassLive
Over the past decade, the hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny insect, has ravaged the hemlocks of Southern Appalachia, causing widespread death of the trees that once lined mountain streams throughout the region. Efforts to keep hemlocks alive include releasing insects that feed on the hemlock woolly adelgid, including the Laricobius beetle featured in a recent article on CompassLive.
May 26, 2015 on CompassLive
“Forests in North America have changed rapidly during the past century,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Jim Hanula. Before European settlement, forests were a mosaic of open pine and hardwood forests, prairies, and woodland savannas. Recent studies have found that forests with sun-filled openings and those with open canopies (where the branches from adjacent trees don’t touch or overlap) favor pollinators.
April 14, 2015 on CompassLive
A newly-discovered species of tree-killing bark beetle, Dendroctonus mesoamericanus Armendáriz-Toledano and Sullivan, has been described in a paper just published online in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America by a group of researchers that includes a U.S. Forest Service scientist.
February 25, 2015 on CompassLive
Michael Ulyshen is being recognized with the U.S. Forest Service Early Career Scientist Award, but his achievements in his short time with the Forest Service are remarkable. Ulyshen is a research entomologist with the Southern Research Station (SRS) Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants unit. During the last five years, he’s been first author on 34 peer-reviewed publications along with three book chapters, five invited presentations, and received international recognition.
February 10, 2015 on CompassLive
This winter, in collaboration with the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Camcore program, the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) established plots for the first phase of research to support restoring hemlocks to the forest stands in the southern Appalachians they’ve disappeared from.
December 4, 2014 on CompassLive
Guidelines for Regenerating Southern Pine Beetle Spots, a general technical report (GTR) by the Southern Research Station (SRS), provides detailed guidance for regenerating pines in areas within forest stands where trees have been killed by southern pine beetle.
November 18, 2014 on CompassLive
Can combining chemical and biological treatments save eastern hemlocks from the hemlock woolly adelgid?
Recently published research by U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators offers hope that integrated management can provide sustained protection for an iconic tree.
In an article published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, Forest Service and university researchers provide findings based on data collected from a natural stand of hemlocks in Georgia that suggest chemical and biological control can be successfully integrated to help prolong hemlock health.
November 12, 2014 on CompassLive
Every homeowner in the Southeast knows about termites and the damage they can do to a house, but most people don’t think about them as forest insects. Termites are saproxylic, meaning they depend on dead or dying wood for at least part of their life cycle, and they play a major role in recycling dead wood in the forest. Though there’s quite a bit known about termites in houses, much less is known about the role they play in forests.
July 15, 2014 on CompassLive
Forests infested with privet invoke a kind of despair in people attuned to the problem of invasive plants. Privet invades a forest quickly, sprawling across the understory and growing into thickets that crowd out native plants and change the very ecology of an area. Even if the woody shrub can be removed effectively, can a forest return to any semblance of its previous condition?
July 17, 2014 on CompassLive
In the South, many of our forests are crowded with invasive plants—English ivy, privet, oriental bittersweet and kudzu—to name just a few. These plants can often edge out the natives, reducing the diversity of understories and altering forests. Understanding how these plants arrived in the southeastern United States and adapted to thrive in local conditions can help with efforts to control and eradicate them.