St. Paul homeowner identifies new invasive species in Minnesota

Krista Menzel is used to having visitors in her backyard garden.

"Bees, hornets, wasps, flies, moths, butterflies," said Menzel.

But some of her newest neighbors are creating quite a buzz.

"It's a mixed thing. I enjoy being able to talk about I Naturalist and paying attention to what's going on in your yard, but I'm bummed we might have another invasive we have to worry about," said Menzel.

Menzel enjoys photographing the insects in her backyard, so when she noticed some strange-looking bugs around her back door back in June, it was only a matter of time before she snapped a few pictures of a pair of them, while sitting under a canopy with friends one night.

She uploaded the pictures to a website called I Naturalist, where citizen scientists document the natural world around them, and several people told her the strange looking bugs were Asiatic Garden Beetles, which aren't supposed to live in Minnesota.

"My first reaction was they are wrong because I thought they don't live here and I didn't have super good photos yet."

Menzel sent pictures and specimens of the bugs to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and an entomologist at the University of Wisconsin, who first discovered the bugs in his state. 

Eventually, both confirmed this was the first documented sighting of the invasive species in Minnesota.

"It was exciting. A little depressing. I'm happy to have participated in this, so now gardeners and farmers can get some guidance on paying attention. We'll figure out if there's anything we need to do about it," said Menzel.

Menzel isn't sure what impact the Asiatic Garden Beetle will have on the state, but she hopes they remind others to appreciate the details of the wild world we live in.

"I didn't do anything other than just pay attention and if we have more people pay attention to birds, insects and animals and everything, I think the world will be a better place," said Menzel.