Macomb residents warned to look out for invasive moth and plant species

Environmental groups have called on Macomb residents to identify two invasive species this season — a moth and a water plant. This week Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) warned of sightings of Gypsy Moth eggs around homes and Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) has been recently found along the Clinton River Spillway in Macomb County.

Gypsy Moth CaterpillarsIn late fall of each year, Macomb MSUE conducts a Gypsy Moth field survey for egg masses of the exotic pest from Europe. The moths have few predators in the United States, and populations can grow large enough to defoliate trees and become detrimental to homeowners.

Egg masses are a buff, yellow-brown color, typically tear-drop shaped and one to two inches in length. Masses are laid in protected areas on trees, as well as on places such as play equipment, lawn furniture and on homes, garages, and wooden fences. Egg masses laid in mid-July through August will survive the winter and hatch in the spring producing hundreds of caterpillars from each egg mass. Homeowners are asked to survey their property for these egg masses and can contact the Macomb MSU Extension office at 586-469-6432 and request a call back to determine infestation and possible surveying.

Aquatic invasive species like Water lettuce cause $5.7 billion of damage in the Great Lakes region every year, according to release from Lake St. Clair Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (LSC CISMA), Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) and Macomb County. Water lettuce is a free-floating, aquatic invasive plant that is on the state of Michigan’s invasive species watch list, where it is classified as a non-native organism that causes ecological, economic, or human harm.

During routine water quality monitoring in September, CRWC staff identified a single water lettuce plant in the Clinton River Spillway and reported the sighting to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN). LSC CISMA followed up on the report and both organizations have continued to survey the area for additional plants resulting in the identification and removal of 115 individual plants. Citizens are encouraged to report any invasive species observances to MISIN.

"The Lake St. Clair CISMA was very quick in their response to the MISIN report,” said Eric Diesing, CRWC ecologist. "I am glad that we were able to catch this one early. This is a great example of effective teamwork and water quality monitoring."
“Early detection of invasive species allows for rapid response management before the organism can become widely established and continue to spread to further locations," said McKenzi Waliczek, coordinator of the LSC CISMA. "Knowing when and where invasive species arrive early is crucial for successful eradication."

Read more articles by Kate Roff.

Kate Roff is a freelance writer and editor, currently based out of Detroit. Contact her at
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