2014 Wisconsin Insect Review

PJ Liesch, Director, Insect Diagnostic Lab Popillia_japonica_-_Japanese_beetle
Department of Entomology
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-6510


How bad will the mosquitos be this summer? PJ Liesch tells us what pests may be seen more this year and how to keep them away.


3:01- Total Time

0:19- Mosquitoes the big story
0:38- Mosquito combat
0:56- Japanese beetle is back
1:16- Battle the beetle
1:34- Emerald ash borer spreads
1:50- Harsh winter didn’t phase insects
2:32- For more information
2:51- Lead out


PJ Liesch 2014 Wisconsin insect review

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Sevie Kenyon: PJ, what are you seeing this season so far in the insect agnostic lab?

PJ Liesch: Certainly a lot of things coming in, but one of the biggest stories at the moment is the mosquitoes. Because with all the rain we’ve been getting, seems like in the last two to three weeks the mosquitoes have just exploded in the southern part of the state. Doesn’t really matter where you are in the state, they seem to be bad this year.

Sevie Kenyon: And what can people do about this?

PJ Liesch: Well, it’s the old tried and true methods, using insect repellants like DEET. If it’s cool enough, and you can manage to have a long sleeved shirt on, those will help keep the mosquitoes at bay. Otherwise, hope for a breeze.  If there’s a wind eight to ten miles per hour, that will help keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Sevie Kenyon: What other insects are we seeing this summer?

PJ Liesch: Well it’s the time of the year that the Japanese beetles are out. They can be the bane of existence for a lot of gardeners and landscapers because those beetles will feed on over three hundred different types of plants ranging from rose bushes, to birch trees, and linden trees, and anything and everything in between.

Sevie Kenyon: And what do we do about these Japanese beetles?

PJ Liesch: It depends on the situation. If you have a single prized rose bush, and there’s not a whole lot of beetles on it, you can go out and simply pick them off by hand, or spray them with soapy water. For other cases there are a number of insecticides available that can be used.

Sevie Kenyon: PJ, can you give us an update on the Emerald Ash Borer situation?

PJ Liesch: Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive species that was discovered in the state a couple of years back, and so I think it’s a case where this year it wouldn’t surprise me if it started popping up in more locations throughout the state.

Sevie Kenyon: How are insects generally affected by the harsh winter we had last year?

PJ Liesch: A lot of people thought, or maybe hoped that the insects would have been affected by the brutal cold. Now the thing is, a lot of insects spend the winter down in the soil, or in a rotting log, or amongst leaf litter, and they were covered by maybe a foot of snow. And we had pretty continual snow cover all winter, and so they weren’t experiencing the negative twenty-degree air temperatures that we did. It may have been a balmy thirty degrees under the snow. And then certain insects can actually make their own natural antifreeze molecule in their body. And so that can help them survive the winters. The insects weren’t affected a whole lot, they were out in force.

Sevie Kenyon: PJ if people are interested in the diagnostic lab or have a question, how do they go about finding you?

PJ Liesch: We have a recently remade website and I have information on my site on how to email me pictures. You can also send in physical samples, and we also have a new online question submission form. If you did a Google search for UW-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab, that should get you to the right spot.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting today with PJ Liesch, Department of Entomology and Insect Diagnostic Lab, University of Wisconsin Madison, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I am Sevie Kenyon.


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