Michigan Officials Add 2 Invasive Species to State Watchlist

Mountain pine beetle (L) and water-primrose (R) were recently added to Michigan's invasive species list. (Photo via Bugwood.org)

By Karel Vega

August 23, 2023

MICHIGAN—State officials have recently updated Michigan’s invasive species watchlist with a beetle and a plant they’re asking the public for help tracking.

Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain pine beetle. (Photo via William M. Ciesla Forest Health Management International Bugwood.org)

According to the Michigan Invasive Species Program, the tiny mountain pine beetle has been called the most aggressive and destructive bark beetle in the western US and Canada.

Hot summers and milder winters have led to the beetle’s range expanding closer to Michigan. Its arrival in Michigan would have catastrophic consequences for the state’s species.

Officials are asking the public to help report any potential pine beetle infestations. The beetles live in bark and can be detected by popcorn-like lumps on pine trees called “pitch tubes.”

Water-Primrose

Water-primrose. (Photo via Graves Lovell, Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bugwood.org)

The invasive water-primrose spreads and establishes itself quickly in wetlands and shorelines. It is actually a group of very similar non-native plants. Along with out-competing native species, water-primrose makes boating and water access difficult.

There are already three known populations of the invasive plant in the state—two in the greater Detroit area and one in Ottawa County.

Water-primrose can be identified by its reddish stems, dark green leaves, and yellow flower with five or six petals. The plants—which grow about two feet tall—are found along the edge of water or floating on the water.

Several non-invasive species related to water-primrose also live in Michigan, but can be distinguished by fewer petals. Here’s a handy guide:

  • Invasive = Five or six petals
  • Non-invasive = Four or no true petals

How to Report Invasive Species

An example of a pine tree with pitch tubes, an indicator that mountain pine beetles are present. (Photo via Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org.)

When reporting watch list species, include one or more photos of the suspected species or its symptoms and provide the location of the infestation.

More information on Michigan’s invasive species watchlist is available here.

Author

  • Karel Vega

    Coming from a long background in public radio, Karel Vega strives to find stories that inform and inspire local communities. Before joining The ‘Gander, Karel served as managing editor at WKAR, the NPR affiliate in East Lansing, Michigan.

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