Michigan’s Most Wanted

A "No Invasive Pests" logo

Pests serve important roles in maintaining nature’s balance, but only in their proper place. When human tampering alters nature, pests thrive more than they naturally would. Every role in an ecosystem is interconnected, so when one element thrives too much, it throws everything off.

One of the worst consequences of ecological disruption are invasive pests. Pests are invasive when they don’t naturally occur in the environment they inhabit. When these species enter an ecosystem, they can significantly throw off its balance.

According to the Michigan Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN), Michigan is at risk from 18 species of invasive insect. The four covered here pose the greatest threat to our environment. We consider them “Michigan’s Most Wanted,” and we’re putting the bounty out: here’s what you should know about these four desperados, and how you can help stop them.

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The stink bug is a mottled-brown, shield-shaped bug that superficially resembles a small beetle. Adults grow to .5 to .75 inches long. Look for white bands on the legs and antennae, and black-and-white patterning along the abdomen. Stink bug nymphs tend to be orange or reddish. These pests typically live near their food sources: fruit trees, vegetable crops, and ornamental plants. Come winter, stink bugs attempt to move to sheltered areas such as houses.

According to Michigan.gov, the brown marmorated stink bug can adversely affect fruit, nut, and legume crop yields. They also damage ornamental plants. When stink bugs feel threatened, they release a foul odor. This odor also emanates from their bodies after death. Their smell and constant presence can make stink bugs an annoying pest to have around your house.

wooly adelgid on a pine tree

Balsam and Hemlock Woolly Adelgids

Balsam and Hemlock Woolly Adelgids are two different species in the Adelgidae family and Adelges genus of insects. Of the two species, only the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has been positively identified in Michigan, but both species are on Michigan’s invasive species watchlist. Adelgids are small, pill-like bugs. As they grow they produce a distinctive wool-like wax filament covering. Look for woolly pilling on the branches or bark of trees.

Balsam and Hemlock Woolly Adelgids feed on the sap of balsam fir and hemlock trees. As an Adelgid feeds, they secrete a salivary substance into the tree. This substance stimulates unhealthy growth  that weakens the tree. Vulnerable trees may die as a result of Adelgid feeding and also become more vulnerable to weather and other pest damage.

Asian longhorned beetle

Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Asian Longhorned Beetle is one of the few pests considered so dangerous that possessing it in Michigan is illegal. The beetle is typically .75 to 1 inch long. They’re a shiny black with white spots on their bodies and white bands on their antennae. While the pest isn’t in Michigan, they’re established in NYC, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio, so they may be headed this way.

Adult females dig holes into maple bark and bury eggs inside them. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the inside of the tree, creating tunnels in the process. Mature larvae can penetrate the tree’s heartwood, substantially compromising its sturdiness. There are more than a billion maple trees in Michigan, and all of them would be at risk should Asian Longhorned Beetles invade our state. If you suspect you’ve identified a Longhorned Beetle, contact the MISIN immediately!.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

Like the Longhorned Asian Beetle, Michigan prohibits the Emerald Ash Borer. Unlike the beetle, the Ash Borer is already established here. The Emerald Ash Borer gets its name from its bright, metallic green coloration. Adult Ash Borers are about half an inch long. Ash Borer larvae are cream-colored and resemble fat worms.

Ash Borers have killed tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan. The insect feeds on ash tree foliage and lay eggs in its bark. Larvae squirm under the bark to feed, creating S-shaped tunnels under the surface. The holes produced damage Ash tree structure, depriving them of nutrients. Michigan’s currently engaged in all-out war against the Emerald Ash Borer, so if you see one, let someone know!

Invasive pests aren’t just a problem for your house or yard; they’re a problem for the whole state! If you suspect you might have an invasive species infestation near your home, let the MISIN know and then give us a call. Together, we can protect the beautiful nature of Michigan!

Invasive Species Reporting – Be a Citizen Scientist

Invasive Species Reporting – Be A Citizen Scientist

When it comes to preventing nuisance and threatening pests from becoming a problem in and around homes and businesses in Michigan, the best defense is a good offense.

The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) is a regional effort to develop and provide an early detection and rapid response resource for invasive species that threaten public health, structures or crops.

Led by researchers from Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the program’s goal is to assist both experts and citizen scientists in the detection and identification of invasive pest species to support successful management strategies.

Whether you are a pest management professional or a citizen scientist with an interest in pests and the environment, MISIN is right up your alley.

To report invasive species you must complete the no-charge registration process on the MISIN website – www.misin.msu.edu or download the MISIN app on your mobile phone.

Once registered you can report invasive species sightings in your area and have the ability to interactively map targeted invasive species occurrences. The MISIN mapping service allows users to navigate the project area and screen digitize species occurrences with the aid of statewide digital imagery.

Contributors can select from various search types including by date, species, geography, project or contributor. Search results will be displayed for both the state of Michigan and across the United States.

Not sure exactly what type of invasive pest you have spotted in your backyard or in the kitchen of your restaurant? Not a problem. The MISIN website offers registered users more than 40 online species identification training modules to help budding pest sleuths properly identify the insect they have encountered.

The invasive species education modules will help you become more comfortable with identifying these species in the field and are recommended before contributing information to the database. Each module, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, includes a short ten question quiz at the end to help you assess your newly acquired knowledge.

Participating in the MISIN program will help prevent and eliminate harmful invasive pest species from threatening residents, crops and structures across Michigan. The information gathered helps the participating agencies identify trouble areas and work with the appropriate experts – including the professional pest management industry – to develop and execute control programs when and where they are needed.

If you have questions on the MISIN program visit www.misin.msu.edu or call or e-mail Griffin Pest Solutions at 888/547-4334 or callcenter@https://www.griffinpest.com/.

Why we’re singing a different tune with some birds


In recent years, there have been a number of bird species, native to the European continent that have begun to flock towards North America. Over 200 native European birds have now been found in North America. The European Starling is one among many of these species. The European Starling is classified under the myna and starling family (Sturnidae). A full grown Starling can measure as long as eight or nine inches, with a total wing span anywhere between 12 and 16 inches. The appearance of the European Starling is subject to change, based on whether it is breeding season or not. One of the most fascinating traits of the European Starling is its uncanny ability to mimic sounds. It has even been known to successfully imitate human sounds.

The Starling is typically native to the European continent, but has also been found nesting in parts of Northwest Asia, and even North Africa, during winter season. Starlings are highly adaptable birds and have been known to thrive in a variety of habitats. However, they are most commonly observed in agricultural regions, large grassland territories and even urban spaces.


One of the key traits of Starlings is that they often migrate and travel in giant flocks. As a result, they consume large quantities of plant matter and small insects like invertebrates in the region where they flock. They are known to travel long distances in such large flocks between their nesting sites and feeding areas. As a consequence of this, they are widely acknowledged as the cause for the spread of invasive plants through massive seed dispersal. Since Starlings travel in large flocks, they have also been known to completely displace other birds in the area, forcing such species to evacuate their nests and native areas. They are generally considered to be extremely aggressive and competitive, attacking birds and nests in order to destroy eggs and lay claim to nesting areas.

Significance to Humans and Pets


The European Starling species is one of the few bird species that are known to have caused significant human fatalities. The year of 1960 saw a large group of Starlings collide with an aircraft causing its engine to malfunction, and the plane to eventually crash. Since the 1960, there have been a number of aviation incidents caused by the massive migration of Starlings. BSC- USA reports indicate that Starlings have caused damages in excess of $6 million, as well as 219 human fatalities since the year 1988. Starlings pose a serious problem to aviation authorities, forcing a number of flights to be abandoned or canceled.

Urban Spaces
Since Starlings travel in such huge numbers, when they invade human spaces they can cause severe inconvenience to homeowners and residents. They tend to nest in dark, enclosed spaces like attics. The droppings of these birds is corrosive in nature, and has been known to cause significant damage to buildings and homes, in the same way that termites do.


Also, when Starlings travel to agricultural regions, they are known to completely destroy crops and food such as grapes. The presence of Starlings poses a clear and present threat to vineyards and small farms. Many farmers and wine-makers make a living of the crops and grapes they grow, and Starling invasions significantly affect their livelihoods, as well as the food economy.

Starlings also carry dangerous viruses and bacteria, like Salmonella. As a result, the waste material they leave behind when they evacuate agricultural regions can have huge health-related effects. They have been known to contaminate water supply for livestock, as well as ruin soil fertility.