For Immediate Release - November 05, 2009

State Agricultural Officials Seek Volunteers for Asian Longhorned Beetle Tree Surveys in Springfield and Boston

Boston Survey Date Changed Due to Rain

BOSTON - In an effort to protect Massachusetts from the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) will survey trees in Boston and Springfield this month, and is encouraging residents to join state officials to help look for the invasive wood-boring insects. There have been no confirmed reports of ALB in Boston or Springfield - or outside of the Worcester area - at this time.

"It was a private citizen who reported the state's first Asian Longhorned Beetle in the Worcester area over a year ago, and we are counting on the public again to help us win the battle against this invasive pest," said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. "ALB still threaten forests, parks, nurseries and maple producers throughout the Commonwealth."

Due to inclement weather, Boston volunteers will now meet on Sunday November 15 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Arlington Street. Volunteers should look for survey leaders wearing ALB buttons and shirts.

Brief training sessions will precede the surveys, and all needed supplies will be provided, including binoculars. Volunteers should bring comfortable walking shoes and drinking water.

Since Asian Longhorned Beetle was first detected in the Commonwealth in August 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has led an ongoing eradication effort in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the DAR, 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 have removed 25,000 trees - including infested trees and host trees in danger of infestation - in the Worcester area. The beetle is thought to have been introduced to the United States via wood packing material shipped from Asia.

How to spot an infestation

Detection efforts focus on looking for tell-tale signs of damage. Female beetles chew small oval pits, 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.

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 straight in at least one inch deep, it was not caused by the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Also, 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. 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.

To report suspicious tree damage, view photographs and videos of tree damage or read about the pests, visit http://massnrc.org/pests/alb 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.