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Illinois' Most Unwanted Invasive Pests

Illinois' Most "Unwanted" Invasive Pests List of 2009.

Description: Adults are slender with metallic green bodies around a half-inch long. They emerge from infested trees in early summer from D-shaped exit holes that are about an eight-of-an-inch in diameter.
Damage: Larva feed under the bark of ash trees, creating S-shaped worm holes that disrupt the flow of nutrients and water, causing the canopy to thin and the tree to eventually die.

Description: About an inch long with black and white specks on its wings, with long white-and-black antennas.
Damage: The greatest damage to trees is caused by the larva as they tunnel through phloem and xylem, causing an infested tree's structure to weaken. The longhorn beetle's favorite hosts are maples, willows and elms.

Description: Adults are less than one-sixteenth-of-an-inch long, all black and covered in a white puffy wax, which progressively gets thicker during their one-year life cycle.
Damage: The woolly adelgid feeds on the sap of hemlocks and produces toxins that are harmful to the tree. It has no natural predator allowing woolly populations to grow rapidly. Tree needles dry out and fall off. After a few years of infestation, the tree will perish.

Description: The shell is is somewhat solid, translucent, white and pale brown. Under magnification, you might see indistinct hairs on the surface of the shell.
Damage: These snails are invasive and can cause damage by feeding on plant life and can transmit pathogens and displace native snails and native slugs.

Description: A large insect, it can be 1 1/2 inches long. It's body is dark metallic blue. Males have a black base and with orange abdominal segments. Their legs are reddish yellow.
Damage: It feeds on and kills pine trees. It attacks – almost exclusively – Scotch, Austrian and maritime pines.

Description: They can be 3 inches tall and 8 inches long, with typically brown shells.
Damage: In the U.S., they have been found hitchhiking aboard shipping containers as well as being smuggled in by international travelers. Their escape and establishment into international areas could be devastating, as they feed on 500 different kinds of plants. They also carry a parasite that can be transmitted to people. It is illegal to sell, posses or transport these animals.

Description: A sign of the disease includes cankers and surface eruptions that serve as a pathogen transmission. The leaves of infected oaks turn brown and the branches die from the tips. Dying bark oozes a black or red tar.
Damage: The pathogen is transported by rain, irrigation and ground water and through the transportation of infected plant material and soil. Concerns lie with not only the loss of oak trees, but also the potential of this pathogen moving through the U.S. nursery system.

Description: Yellow and light green spots form on the topside of the leaves. The underside of the leaf develops pink pustules that become white with age.
Damage: Infection can spread quickly in greenhouse and nursery environments, causing severe losses. Infected plants might not show symptoms unless conditions are cool or wet.

Description: Infection can first be detected in leaves. They might develop ring patterns, blotches and bands. Flowers might show discoloration. Fruit can be deformed.
Damage: The disease infects plum, peach, nectarine, apricot, almond and cherry trees. The disease affects the quality of the fruit and shortens the tree's useful life.

Description: The submerged aquatic perennial can grow up to 20 feet long. Leaves are whorled in groups of three to eight around a stem system of nodes. Spines are found around the leaf margins and give it a rough texture.
Damage: Not yet established in Illinois, it is a noxious weed of major concern. The submerged plant is found in fresh, slow-moving water and forms dense subsurface mats that out compete native plants. Hydrilla destroys fish and wildlife habitats and impedes water flow, creating mosquito breeding grounds.

Description: This twining vine has reddish stems with small prickly spines. Leaves are triangular and typically 1 to 3 inches wide. Cup-like leafy structures spaced along the stem give way to shiny blue fruit.
Damage: Not yet found in Illinois, this is a serious concern as the plants can grow 20 feet long, six inches a day. The rapidly growing vine can can cover and kill underlying vegetation. Its rate of growth and climbing characteristics makes this invasive vine similar to kudzu, but it can better tolerate cold weather.

Description: This short-lived perennial can grow up to 15 feet tall. It has enormous compound leaves, up to five inches wide. Stems are up to 4 inches thick, hollow and covered in purple blotches and white hair. Numerous white flowers are present in June or July.
Damage: This tough plant out-competes native vegetation and causes increased erosion along stream banks. In addition to being classified as a noxious weed by the federal government, it can be harmful to humans. The plant's sap contains furocoumarins that when in contact with skin and exposed to sunlight can lead to severe burning and blistering.

- Put together by the Illinois Cooperative Agriculture Survey Program, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To report a suspected infestation, call 217-333-1005 or email

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