Emerging Invasive Species along the Bruce Trail

Three new invasive species recently recorded in Ontario could pose a threat to biodiversity on the Niagara Escarpment. Early detection will be key to managing their spread, and hikers can help.

Spotted Lanternfly

This colourful insect feeds on a variety of plants, including the invasive tree-of-heaven, fruit trees and grape vines, making it a threat to the grape, fruit tree and forestry industries in Canada. It has not yet been found in Ontario, but has been detected in nearby New York state, making it a particular threat to grape-growers in Niagara. As an adult, it is recognizable by its black-spotted front wings and red back wings. Its egg masses, which can be laid on trees, buildings and even cars, are brownish in colour, resembling mud.

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

This aphid-like insect feeds on hemlock trees, and has the ability to kill even mature trees due to the damage caused by feeding. Eastern Hemlock is an important shade-tolerant tree in Ontario, forming an important component of mature forests and dominating cool, moist ravines all along the Bruce Trail. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is established along the eastern coast of the US and has recently been detected in Wainfleet, Niagara Falls, Grafton and Fort Erie. They are most recognizable by their white, wooly egg sacs that can be found at the base of needles, especially on young twigs.

Japanese Stiltgrass

This invasive grass sprawls across forest floors and disturbed areas, outcompeting native plants and dominating large areas, thereby reducing biodiversity. It has been found in only one location in Ontario, in the area of Short Hills Provincial Park, so you may have noticed it if you’ve hiked the Niagara section of the Bruce Trail. The CFIA is aware of this population and is actively controlling it. However, there are concerns that it could spread beyond this area, as its seeds can attach to clothing and animal fur. Japanese stiltgrass can be recognized by its thin, pale green leaves that are tapered at both ends and that have a silvery stripe down the middle.

How you can help
  • Learn to identify these species at their various life stages. Visit www.invasivespeciescentre.ca for more information.
  • Monitor the invasive species’ preferred plant hosts (Eastern Hemlock and Tree-of-Heaven) for signs.
  • Check hard surfaces for Spotted Lanternfly egg masses (September – May), especially when transporting materials from areas of known Spotted Lanternfly detections.
  • Buy local firewood and do not move firewood.
  • Report your sightings (see links at top of this post)

Please Consider Making a Donation

One-Time Gift