Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beetles!

RIDEM and the USDA need volunteers for tree surveys for Asian longhorned beetles in three state parks.

Release courtesy of RIDEM.

Through a cooperative effort with the USDA and Animal Plant Health Inspection Services, the Department of Environmental Management will conduct tree surveys in state parks and management areas this month for the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). 

ALB is an invasive insect that came to the United States in wooden shipping crates from China and Korea more than 16 years ago. It affects hardwood shade trees such as maple, ash, birch, willow and elm by boring into the core of the tree and eventually killing it. This beetle has the potential of wiping out thousands of the state’s trees if it goes undetected. 

The ALB surveys will take place on Tuesday, August 7 at Burlingame State Park in Charlestown; Thursday, August 9 at Lincoln Woods State Park; and Tuesday, August 21 at George Washington Management Area in Glocester. 

Surveys will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Survey participants will be easily identifiable, dressed in brightly-colored “ALB Survey” shirts and will be inspecting the top portion of hardwood trees using binoculars. They will be looking for signs of ALB, such as egg-laying sites and exit holes.

Volunteers are still needed to help with the tree surveys and will be trained on the day of the surveys.  Interested volunteers are asked to bring a pair of binoculars, if available, good walking shoes, food and water.  For more information, contact Cindy Kwolek in DEM’s Division of Agriculture at 949-1770 or via email at Cynthia.Kwolek@dem.ri.gov

It is imperative to prevent the spread of these insects to Rhode Island, or detect them early enough so that they can be dealt with before they become a major problem.  Tree-eating, non-native insects can be transported in firewood, with the potential to cause damage costing millions of dollars in clean-up, eradication, and replanting efforts.

In fact, the issue of invasive species is one of the US Forest Service's top four threats. Detection of the Emerald Ash Borer, another exotic invasive insect that attacks Ash trees, was recently discovered in two communities in the state of Connecticut.

The financial impact from invasive species infestations in the United States has been estimated at $138 billion per year in total economic damages and associated control costs. 

Rhode Island residents are encouraged to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of ALB. The department is asking the public, in addition to nurserymen, commercial pesticide applicators, arborists and other tree health specialists, to notify DEM if they observe any insects resembling the ALB or see symptoms or damage related to this beetle in Rhode Island. 

The beetle is large, ranging from 0.75 to 1.25 inches in length with very long black and white antennae. The body is glossy black with irregular white spots. The distinctive antennae that give the beetle its common name are as long as the body itself in females, and almost twice the body length in males.

Adult ALB emerge from late spring to early fall and feed on tree bark and tender twigs. During its larval stage, the ALB bores deep in the tree's heartwood, where it feeds on the tree's nutrients. This tunneling damages and eventually kills the tree. The adult ALB then chews its way out of the tree the next summer, leaving perfectly round exit holes that are approximately 1 cm (3/8") in diameter. 

Signs of ALB infestation include perfectly round, dime-sized exit holes; frass, a sawdust-like material comprised of tree shaving and insect waste; and oozing sap. Dead and dying tree limbs or branches and yellowing leaves in areas where there has been no drought may also be a sign of ALB. Research indicates this beetle can survive and reproduce in most sections of the country where suitable host trees exist.

Campers, Others Asked to Use Only Local Firewood

ALB typically does not spread quickly on its own, but it can easily be inadvertently transported in untreated firewood and other forest products.  All Rhode Island residents are reminded to purchase firewood from local sources and not transport firewood from out of state. 

Firewood brought into Rhode Island from infested areas can easily bring along unwanted hitch hikers like ALB and other harmful forest pests.  

Public Can Report Suspect ALB Sightings Online on DEM Website

DEM has an online reporting form on its website for the public to use to report sightings of the ALB or Emerald Ash Borer.  Developed by RI.gov, this reporting mechanism asks for the user’s valid email address and then sends an email with a link to the reporting form. The user then submits their contact information and a description of the pest.  RI.gov will send the collected information to DEM on a regular basis to assist with the ongoing ALB detection program.

The form is available on the DEM website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on “Report Asian Longhorned Beetle” under Timely Topics on the homepage.

In addition to the online reporting mechanism, residents may also call a USDA APHIS manned toll-free ALB hotline at 866-702-9938 to report any possible sightings of ALB.  For further information, contact Cindy Kwolek at 949-1770 or via email at Cynthia.kwolek@dem.ri.gov. Information on ALB is also available on the DEM website at www.dem.ri.gov.

Ryan Bouchard August 04, 2012 at 12:24 PM
hikers need to be shown how to recognize the holes made by woodpeckers drilling for insects in the wood, and how to tell them from the holes made by these beetles
Joe Alberi August 04, 2012 at 01:45 PM


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