Educating the Public on Beetle Eradication

August 11, 2009 - For immediate release:

The Official Website of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eoeeapressrelease&L=1&L0=Home&sid=Eoeea&b=pressrelease&f=090811_pr_longhorn_beetle&csid=Eoeea

Governor Patrick Declares August "Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month" in Massachusetts

WORCESTER - Just a few miles away from where the Commonwealth's first Asian Longhorned Beetle was reported last August, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott Soares today read a proclamation from Governor Deval Patrick declaring August "Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month."  

"The difficulty of detecting this invasive pest highlights the need to encourage every resident in the Commonwealth to be vigilant and learn to recognize and report sightings of Asian Longhorned beetles, in order to prevent further spread of the species," Governor Patrick declared in the proclamation.

Officials from DAR and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) joined United States Department of Agriculture officials, Worcester Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes, stakeholders from the nursery and landscape industry, environmental groups and concerned citizens at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester to raise awareness and educate the public about the impacts of the invasive species and the importance of reporting Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) sightings. The group also recognized Worcester resident Donna Massie for seeking out the identity of the beetles infesting the trees in her yard last year and her quest to protect the trees of Worcester and beyond. The Worcester infestation was reported on August 1, 2008 by Massie, a concerned citizen with no prior knowledge of this invasive pest.

"As a resident of Worcester, I understand the devastation the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation has had on many neighborhoods in the Greater Worcester area," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.  "I am pleased that we are spreading awareness across the Commonwealth about the impact this infestation can have not only on the hardwood forests but also for an entire community."

"This declaration should remind people of the Commonwealth that the Asian Longhorned Beetle is a significant concern to us all," said Commissioner Soares.  "DAR will continue its outreach efforts to ensure that every resident in Massachusetts is aware of what is at stake and knows what to do to help eliminate this pest, which is not only a threat to the environment, but to the state's agricultural interests and tourism industry as well." 

"DCR has been working hard to help identify and eradicate this destructive pest," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "We appreciate how difficult this has been for the residents of Worcester, and we thank them for their patience and cooperation as we work to halt the spread of this invasive insect."

"The invasion of the Asian Longhorned Beetle has resulted in one of the worst natural disasters in the history of this city," said Mayor Lukes. "Entire neighborhoods have been decimated and the landscape of these areas has been changed for generations to come.  The City, State and federal government have been working tirelessly to ensure that the infestation is contained and to replace the lost trees and revive the quality of life in those affected neighborhoods."

The Asian Longhorned Beetle is a major pest of hardwood trees, including maple, birch and willow. The beetles tunnel deep into the tree's branches and trunks, disrupting sap flow, weakening and eventually killing the tree. There is no cure for this pest, and once a beetle attacks a tree, the only remedy is to cut the tree down. The beetle is thought to have been introduced to the United States in New York in 1996 via wood packing material shipped from Asia.

Today's proclamation is just part of the state's effort to raise awareness of the invasive species and its negative effects. DCR and DAR are asking all Massachusetts residents to be on the lookout.

Since the first report last August, the USDA has led an ongoing eradication effort in partnership with the DAR, DCR, the city of Worcester, and the towns of Boylston, Holden, Shrewsbury, and West Boylston. Through this initiative, known as the Massachusetts Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program, state and federal officials removed more than 20,000 trees - including infested trees and host trees in danger of infestation - in the Worcester area. In addition, DAR has provided public outreach and education, giving talks and staffing educational tables at farmers' markets, agricultural fairs, and other events throughout the state. DAR has also targeted the cities of Boston and Springfield for special Asian Longhorned Beetle training sessions aimed at leaders of environmental groups, master gardeners, and representatives from the nursery and landscaping industry who are interested in helping spread the word to the public.

The beetle has not been found outside the Worcester area, but according to DAR's Asian Longhorned Beetle Survey and Outreach Project, all parts of the state are at risk for infestation.  DAR will work with parks departments and other stakeholders to coordinate continuous surveys of high-risk areas.

DCR has been a key player in the Massachusetts Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication program. The agency was instrumental early on in notifying property owners of their rights and responsibilities under the program, holding public information meetings, and alerting residents to the presence of infested trees on their property. Since then, DCR has helped survey the regulated area, remove infested trees, and plant new trees.

How to spot an infestation

Signs of an infestation include smooth, round, dime-sized holes left by adult beetles exiting a tree, sawdust-like material on the ground around the trunk or on tree limbs, and oozing sap. If an exit hole can be easily reached, try fitting the eraser end of a pencil into the hole. If it does not go in straight at least one inch deep, it is not the beetle. The beetles leave exit holes spread out across a tree. A series of holes together in a line is often caused by woodpeckers or sapsuckers.

Throughout the summer, adult beetles emerge and feed on leaves and twigs, primarily on maple trees. Adult beetles are .75- to 1.5-inch long, shiny black insects with irregular white spots and antennae that are one to two times their body length. The beetles can be found anywhere including on park benches, car hoods, patio furniture, sides of houses, and sidewalks. The beetles are most active from early summer through mid-fall and do not attack oaks or conifers such as pine or spruce.

Female beetles chew small oval pits, a ½ inch in diameter, to lay their eggs beneath tree bark. After the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into and feed off of living trees over the winter.

Click here to download high-resolution photographs of Asian longhorned beetle

Click here to download high-resolution photographs of Asian longhorned beetle tree damage.

To report suspicious tree damage, view photographs and videos of tree damage or read about the pests,visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/alb/alb.shtml or call the toll-free Asian Longhorned Beetle hotline at (866) 702-9938.

For more information about the eradication program, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/alb/alb.shtml 

The DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, and dams, in addition to 278 bridges and miles of roadways. Led by Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr., the agency's mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/alb/alb.shtml Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.

Identifying the Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)

Be on the alert for this significant pest of trees - Look for trees damaged by Asian longhorned beetles. Characteristic damage includes entry and exit wounds, sometimes with sap flowing out of the trunks and branches, and sawdust piled up at the bases of trees. For positive identification of insect specimens or damage, please contact your local USDA-APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine office or the State Plant Health Director for your State.

Report an Infestation:

  • 1-866-702-9938 in Massachusetts

  • For More Info Link to the USDA Site 

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