UPDATE: DNR says invasive bugs bigger threat than noxious plant - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: DNR says invasive bugs bigger threat than noxious plant

Posted:
Giant Hogweed: Photo Courtesy extension.entm.purdue.edu Giant Hogweed: Photo Courtesy extension.entm.purdue.edu
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid: Photo courtesy of: Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org Hemlock Woolly Adelgid: Photo courtesy of: Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Though Indiana officials have gotten reports of a noxious plant that can cause severe irritation if it comes into contact with skin or even blindness if it comes into contact with eyes, there are other more prominent issues residents in our area should be concerned about.

The Department of Natural Resources says giant hogweed had been found in St. Joseph and Kosciusko counties.  The three spotted plants in St. Joseph County are said to be small, and limited.  The Kosciusko County site where a giant hogweed was spotted has been removed.

DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology Director Philip Marshall says the agency is trying to get rid of the plant. He says sap from the plant contains toxins that cause photo-dermatitis, a skin reaction to ultraviolet rays.

The invasive species is recognizable by its height and white flowers.  Another plant, Cow Parsnip can often be mistaken for Giant Hogweed.  Cow Parsnip has a greener stem, though.

The DNR says there have been several reports that have turned out to be inaccurate, they were Cow Parsnip.  There have been confirmed reports that match contact with the plant this year.  There have been no reports of new locations for giant hogweed this year.

Director Marshall says that much of the fear over giant hogweed lately has been somewhat overblown.  Though it can pose a danger, it is highly unlikely for anyone to encounter the plant.

He says residents in our area should be more focused on several insect species that a growing in population in the area.  Emerald Ash Borers and Gypsy Moths live in trees and can be transported inside firewood.  The DNR urges everyone to not transport firewood, as it can spread these invasive species.

Another plant killer to watch out for is the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.  It has been found in Southwest Michigan, and was found for the first time in Indiana last year.  In April of last year, the invasive insect was found on a tree in LaPorte County.

If you spot any of these invasive species, you are asked to call the Indiana DNR Invasive Species Hotline at 1-866-NO-EXOTIC (663-9684)

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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