(WGHP) — A new invasive pest has made its way into North Carolina, according to the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The elm zigzag sawfly was recently documented in Surry and Stokes Counties by an NC Forest Service assistant ranger.
The assistant ranger found the elm zigzag sawfly in Westfield north of Pilot Mountain. They are a type of wasp native to Asia, and they were previously only found in Virginia in 2021 and Canada in 2020.
They cannot sting and are harmless to people and animals, but as the name suggests, the elm zigzag sawfly can cause significant damage to elm trees since they can increase their population size quickly, according to Brian Heath, NCFS forest health specialist.
Elm zigzag sawfly females reproduce without mating, so they can have multiple generations every year.
They are named for a saw-shaped appendage they use when laying eggs and for the zigzag pattern left behind on leaves after they feed.
“If you see a defoliating elm tree that you suspect is being impacted by this new invasive pest, note the location, try to safely photograph the insect and the leaves that have been eaten upon and contact your local NCFS county ranger,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “As North Carolina’s list of invasive species gets a little longer, you can help us keep our forests healthy and thriving by reporting these bad bugs.”
People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should contact their NCFS county ranger. To find contact information for your county ranger, click here.