Invasive Species Threatens Ontario’s Wine Industry

At first glance, the spotted sunflower looks like a colorful butterfly. The insect, however, belongs to the bedbug family and cannot fly. It can be identified by its colorful appearance and red and black spots on its wings, according to the Invasive Species Center website.

Native to Asia, the spotted sunflower was first sighted in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since spread to six other US states.

Native to Asia, the spotted sunflower was first sighted in the state of Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since spread to six US states.

Photo: Invasive Species Center

Emily Posteraro is Program Development Coordinator at the Invasive Species Center, a Canadian non-profit organization. According to her, there is cause for concern.

The spotted sunflower really likes to feed on vines. It destroyed many vines and other tender fruit trees in the United Statesshe explains.

Although this invasive species has yet to be detected in Canada, some say it is only a matter of time before it crosses the border.

We have that it is invading upstate New York and will eventually make its way to Canada, launches Debbie Zimmerman, the director of the organization Grape Growers of Ontario.

She explains that the spotted sunflower feeds on the sweet sap of plants. It is for this reason that it represents a major threat to orchards, vineyards and sugar bushes.

Stay alert for the spotted sunflower

Norm Beal is the owner of the Peninsula Ridge Estate vineyard in the Niagara region. He is equally concerned about the progress of this species.

We are all very worried. It’s another invasive species and we don’t want to have to think about that right now.he said.

I am very concerned, but at the moment we are ahead of the problem, which is a good thing. »

A quote from Norm Beal, owner of the Peninsula Ridge Estate vineyard

According to him, you have to be vigilant and watch the vineyards carefully.

We need to monitor our vineyards, as well as the tree lines around the vineyards, for early indications that the spotted sunflower has arrived in Canada. Then we can think about how to answer ithe explains.

Ms. Posteraro of the Invasive Species Center agrees.

Early detection is key to mitigating damage. It is easier to control the situation and it is less costly at the prevention stage. Once we get to the management stage, it’s much more difficultshe explains.

If anyone sees a spotted sunflower, Emily Posteraro recommends taking photos, noting the location, and reporting it to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Several mottled stormflies on a tree.

Although this invasive species has yet to be detected in Canada, some say it is only a matter of time before it crosses the border.

Photo: Invasive Species Center

The full professor of biological sciences at Brock University Liette Vasseur also indicates that all Canadians must be aware of the arrival of the spotted fulgore, since this species can live in both rural and urban areas.

It is possible for the female to lay eggs on a smooth surface, such as on vehicles. If a bug is on a vehicle and no one notices it, it could easily cross the bordershe says.

Hence why Canadians visiting wineries in the United States should be vigilant when returning home, according to Ms. Vasseur.

In addition, the researcher also indicates that climate change could play a role in the increase in the number of invasive species in Canada.

If a species can survive here, it can reproduce here. And if it can reproduce here, it can eventually establish a population. »

A quote from Liette Vasseur, Full Professor of Biological Sciences at Brock University

A longer summer season and more temperate winters due to rising temperatures allow more invasive species to spread and live longershe explains.

For its part, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs indicates in a press release that it is currently carrying out spot fly surveys in higher risk areas to help in the early detection of the spotted fulgore.

With information from Aya Dufour and CBC

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