Invasive species are those non-native species that tend to crowd out our native plants and animals. When possible, DTE Energy attempts to maintain our property in a native state, which includes the removal of non-native species. Several invasive species are of particular concern to DTE Energy because of their destructive tendencies.
In addition to the elements listed here, DTE Energy Green Team members regularly volunteer with other agencies across our service territory to remove garlic mustard, spotted knapweed, common and glossy buckthorn, purple loosestrife, and other vegetative pests.
Emerald Ash Borer
Since its discovery in 2002, this little beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in neighboring states and provinces. Quarantines were enacted in multiple states to restrict potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where the beetle has been found. Removing dead trees, planting other species, and managing the process has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries tens of millions of dollars.
The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an exotic import from Asia. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients, and killing the infected trees at a rapid rate.
Dead or weakened ash trees are more susceptible to toppling or breaking during a storm, and have caused major destruction to power lines and poles. Detroit Edison encourages people to remove these trees from their property. Although there is an expense involved with the tree removal, the potential for injury or death and damage to homes, vehicles or property is far worse.
Zebra mussels have been plaguing the Detroit River and our Great Lakes for more than decade now. They are a small (0.5-2 inches) freshwater mollusk from Eastern Europe that were first deposited in Lake St. Clair, probably from ballast water from a large freighter.
Zebra mussels get their name from a striped pattern that appears on most shells. They are very prolific and have few natural predators. Zebra mussels upset ecosystems, threaten native wildlife, damage structures, and cause other serious problems.
As they grow, zebra mussels attach themselves to hard surfaces, including power plant water intake and outfalls. Detroit Edison divers and contract teams must regularly enter the water to scrape the mussels off of our equipment to prevent the pipes from clogging and taking the plant offline. The company also uses chlorination and high pressure water spraying to manage what has become a costly and unavoidable maintenance issue for all industries and municipalities that have water intake and discharge structures.
Phragmites is a tall perennial grass that can grow up to 6 meters (15 feet) tall. It abounds in wetlands along the Eastern seaboard and has become increasingly prevalent in the Great Lakes and waterways of Michigan. It's also along roadsides and in ditches, crowding out native cattails and other plants which provide better habitat for wildlife.
Phragmites spreads by both seeds and rhizomes.
Phragmites australis is not, technically, a non-native species as subtypes have been present in North America for thousands of years. However, the more aggressive European forms have begun to dominate and crowd out the native varieties, as well as many other marsh grasses and sedges.
Invasive phragmites creates tall, dense stands which degrade wetlands and coastal areas by crowding out native plants and animals, blocking shoreline views, and reducing access for swimming, fishing, and hunting. After the growing season, phragmites can create fire hazards from the large volumes of standing dry plant material.
DTE Energy is working with its environmental partners to address the problem of invasive phragmites at its sites as it restores wildlife habitat, particularly in wetland areas. The company has also worked with a local natural builder and provided phragmites stems that have been used for the thatched roof of the Strawbale Cottage at Kensington Metropark and in other locations.
Emerald Ash Borer
What can I do?
Use only local firewood. To avoid being an insect taxi, buy or cut firewood where you'll burn it.
Don't panic. If you want advice on your ash trees, choose an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)-certified arborist or tree inspector.
Do ponder. Consider planting saplings of another species that can take over if your ash tree doesn’t survive.
Spread the warning. Share this information with friends and neighbors. Learn more at emeraldashborer.info and Michigan Department of Agriculture.