Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic Update - May 4, 2011

The following are highlights and updates about samples and questions recently received in the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic:


Millipedes continue to migrate.  Exclusion techniques to keep them out remain the best management alternative, though dry weather may also be slowing them down.  See our online article for more information.

One of the more unusual sample of the week has been a photo of hide beetles (adults and larvae) submitted by the Audubon county Extension Office.  See the photo below.  The specimens were found in cat food. Hide beetles are closely related to the more common larder beetle. Both feed in “animal protein” materials such as dead animals (including insects) and high-fat stored products such as pet food. The name for the hide beetle comes from their attack of tanned and untanned animal hides. They are also reported in animal products such as dried fish, cheese, bacon, dog treats, etc.

The control of both species is to locate and eliminate infested items. Old pet food can be discarded. Spraying is not effective.

Hide beetle adults are black with a white underside, whereas larder beetle adults are two-toned. Hide beetle larvae have a stripe down the back, and the larder beetle larvae do not.

Hide beetle adults and larvae from cat food.

Hide beetle adults and larvae from cat food.

Sapsuckers, a type of woodpecker, are back and their characteristic damage to trees has been observed .  Often sapsucker damage is blamed on insect borers, but sapsuckers leave holes in trunks in lines, insects are not that organized!  Sapsuckers feed on the sap, inner bark and insects attracted to the sap. Often they will repeatedly damage the same tree.

Sapsucker damage on a white pine.

One odd thing that I have seen this year on birch trees is what appears to be sapsucker damage associated with orange slimy drippings.  It is possible the sapsucker damage has lead to some secondary infection of some sort, but we do not know if it is harmful to the tree or just some opportunistic fungi or bacteria feeding on the sap.  It looks as though the trees have been spray painted with orange paint.  If anyone else has seen this on your birch or trees besides birch please let us know.  

Possible sapsucker damage to a birch and resulting orange slime (that is not a technical term).

For more information on woodpeckers and how to discourage their activities please see the Woodpeckers pamphlet in the Managing Iowa Wildlife Series.


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