Oyster-Like Insects Invading Utah's Forests

By Ginny Reese

November 15, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

An invasive, oyster-like insect species is invading Utah's forests and are becoming a threat to Utah's native aspen trees, reported ABC 4. They were most recently found in the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Pole Canyon just east of the Provo area.

The insects are called oystershell scale, and are a tiny, sap-sucking creature. They resemble oysters or mussels. The bugs attach themselves to trees and eventually take over the entire host, killing it.

The bugs tend to stay on the shaded portions of trees and avoid direct sunlight.

Darren McAvoy, Utah State University Extension assistant professor of forestry, said:

"Quaking aspen is the most widely distributed tree species in North America, and it adds an important component of biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and fall color to Utah landscapes."

So how do officials get rid of the invasive species?

McAvoy said:

"Applying fire to the affected landscape appears to be the most promising management strategy for controlling the spread of oystershell scale, but we are just starting to learn about it, so more research is needed to understand this relationship. Historically, other invasive species have practically wiped out certain species of trees in the U.S., including the American chestnut and western white pine. Oystershell scale is known to have killed large groups of native forest tree species in several eastern states."
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