Invasion of Nipponaclerda biwakoensis (Hemiptera: Aclerdidae) and Phragmites australis die-back in southern Louisiana, USA
© 2018, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature. Common reed, Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. Ex Steud., is the dominant emergent vegetation in the lower Mississippi River Delta (MRD), Louisiana, USA and is comprised primarily of introduced lineages of different phylogeographic origins. Dense stands of P. australis are important for protecting marsh soils from wave action and storm surges. In the Fall of 2016, while investigating symptoms of die-back of Phragmites stands in the lower marsh, a non-native scale was found infesting affected stands in high densities. Identified as Nipponaclerda biwakoensis (Kuwana) (Hemiptera: Aclerdidae), the scale was well established across the lower MRD. This report represents the first recorded population of Nipponaclerda biwakoensis in North America. Intriguingly, there are noticeable differences in die-back symptoms and in scale densities among different lineages of Phragmites in the MRD, with stands of the well-known European invasive lineage appearing healthier and having lower scale densities than other Phragmites lineages. Given its apparent relationship with the die-back syndrome, the scale may have serious implications for the health and stability of Phragmites marsh communities across coastal Louisiana. Efforts are currently underway to investigate the role of the scale and other abiotic stressors in the die-backs and potential management solutions.