Emerging Threats

Emerging threats in Tennesse are insects, diseases, and plants that have been detected in Tennessee but are not a common issue in the state, or that have not yet been detected in Tennessee but may eventually make their way to the state. However, we actively monitor for these issue and encourage residents to report potential sightings.

Sudden Oak Death

Sudden oak death is caused by a water mold (Phytophthora ramorum) that threatens the vast oak forests of the eastern United States. The disease causes girdling cankers on the main stem and large branches which coalesce to eventually kill the entire tree. Sudden oak death (which is not very sudden) is responsible for killing millions of oaks in the western states.

Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive plant hopper with forewings which are light brown transitioning from black spots at the front to a speckled band near the rear, while hindwings are scarlet with black spots. This sapsucking insect prefers tree of heaven however is a threat to a host of tree species.

Oak Wilt

Oak wilt is considered to be the most important disease of oaks in the eastern United States. It is caused by a fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum and can quickly kill large mature trees as it spreads through the tree's vascular system.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

The invasive Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) can be identified by its glossy black exoskeleton mottled with white spots. It feeds on a wide host of tree species, boring round holes through the bark; however prefers maple trees.

Goldspotted Oak Borer

Goldspotted oak borer (Agrilus auroguttatus) is a small black beetle with six golden dots on its forewing. It is currently isolated to the western United States however it has resulted into complete oak death in some areas and is a serious threat to Eastern forests.


Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), also known as Japanese bloodgrass or by the popular cultivar "Red Baron" is often labeled one of the top ten worst invasive plants in the word. It rapidly colonizes disturbed areas spreading by seed and underground stems.