For Immediate Release - August 10, 2010

State Agricultural Officials Mark August as Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month

 

 

BOSTON - August 10, 2010 - With eradication of the state's first Asian longhorned beetle infestation under way in Worcester and a smaller infestation recently discovered in Boston, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott Soares today announced that August is Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Awareness Month.

The declaration, made in a proclamation by Governor Deval Patrick, is a reminder to residents to assist local, state and federal officials to recognize and report sightings of Asian longhorned beetles to prevent future infestations. Officials from DAR and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have partnered with federal officials to raise awareness and educate the public about the impacts of the invasive insect and the importance of reporting Asian longhorned beetle sightings.

"As a resident of Worcester, I have seen first-hand how the Asian longhorned beetle infestation can devastate a neighborhood and community," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "As our administration continues to partner with local and federal agencies and community organizations to restore affected landscape, it is also critical that we raise awareness across the state about the impacts of this insect."

The Worcester infestation of this invasive species has led to removal of more than 27,000 trees so far and was first reported on August 1, 2008, by Donna Massie, a concerned citizen with no prior knowledge of the invasive pest. A second infestation was discovered in Boston in July 2010.

"The Asian longhorned beetle infestation in Massachusetts is a significant concern to us all," said Commissioner Soares. "DAR will continue its outreach efforts to ensure that every resident is aware of what is at stake and knows what to do to help eliminate this pest, which is a threat to native tree species and the state's agricultural interests."

"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."

Residents and business owners should be on the lookout for the Asian longhorned beetle during the summer, when adult beetles have emerged from the trees and are active. The Asian longhorned beetle can destroy 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. Once a beetle attacks a tree, the only remedy is to cut the tree down and chip it into small pieces. The beetle is thought to have been introduced to the United States in New York in 1996 via wood packing material shipped from Asia.

"We're very grateful for the leadership of the Patrick-Murray Administration in helping to combat the Asian longhorned beetle," said Worcester Mayor Joe O'Brien. "We believe it's critically important to work in partnership at the state and federal level to continue to raise awareness about this invasive pest."

Since the discoveries of Asian longhorned beetle in Worcester and Boston, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has led an ongoing eradication effort in partnership with DAR, DCR, the cities of Worcester and Boston, and the towns of Boylston, Holden, Shrewsbury, West Boylston and Brookline. Through this initiative, known as the Massachusetts Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program, state and federal officials removed more than 27,000 trees from the Worcester area - including infested trees and host trees in danger of infestation.

This July, six infested maple trees were found at Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain. ALB Eradication Program staff continue to survey the area, but have found no new infested trees so far.

DAR has provided public outreach and education at farmers' markets, agricultural fairs and other events across the state. This year, DAR has targeted the communities of Boston, Fitchburg, Leominster and New Bedford for Asian longhorned beetle training sessions aimed at leaders of environmental groups, master gardeners, and nursery and landscaping industry representatives who are interested in helping spread the word to the public.

DCR, a key player in the Massachusetts Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication program, continues to notify property owners of their rights and responsibilities, hold public information meetings and alert residents to the presence of infested trees on their property. DCR staff has also surveyed the regulated area, removed infested trees and planted new ones.

How to spot an infestation:

Signs of an infestation include round, smooth-edged, 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 goes in straight at least one inch deep, contact the Asian Longhorned Beetle hotline (866-702-9938) or visit www.mass.gov/agr/alb/. 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-inches long, shiny black with irregular white spots and have antennae that are one to two times their body length. The beetles can be found on trees, but also 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 half-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.
 

To report suspicious tree damage, view photographs and videos of tree damage or read about the pests, visit www.massnrc.org/pests/alb or call the toll-free Asian longhorned beetle hotline at (866) 702-9938.

More information about the eradication program

###

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 - 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. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow us at twitter.com/MDARCommish. For your gateway to locally grown products, specialty foods, and fun ag-tivities go to www.mass.gov/massgrown.