The latest info on plant pests, pathogens, and weeds.

August is Tree Check Month!


Asian longhorned beetleemerald ash borerHave you checked your trees for signs of invasive forest pests? Insects like Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer are a threat to trees across Massachusetts. This month, we’re asking everyone to take just 10 minutes to check the trees in their yard or in nearby parks or forests, and to report any suspicious tree damage. Read below for tips on how to recognize the signs of Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer damage, and how to report possible sightings.

Save the Trees – Spot their Enemies

30,000 of something is a difficult number to imagine. It’s even more staggering to envision 30,000 trees disappearing, but that is how many hardwood trees have been lost so far to the Asian Longhorned Beetle in the greater Worcester area. Asian Longhorned Beetle (“ALB”, scientific name Anoplophora glabripennis) is an invasive pest that was discovered in Worcester in 2008, making 2013 the 5th anniversary of this discovery. It causes damage by tunneling deep into live trees, destroying them from the inside out. That makes this invasive insect a threat to hardwood trees throughout the state, and one that could have a serious negative impact on fall foliage tourism, the maple sugaring industry, and other forest product industries. No one is sure how ALB got to Massachusetts, but we do know that it was introduced to the USA accidentally, through wooden pallets and crates used to ship goods here from Asia. Now that it is here, the risk of infested wood being transported around makes it even more important for everyone to learn to recognize the signs of an ALB infestation and to promptly report any suspicious tree damage. If pests like ALB are detected early, the impact on trees is much less severe. For example, the ALB infestation in Worcester wasn’t discovered until more than a decade after it started, giving it years to spread and resulting in the loss of those 30,000 trees. But an infestation of ALB in Boston discovered in 2010, just two to three years after it started, resulted in only six infested trees needing to be removed. Eradication was declared in May of 2014, after just four years of survey efforts!

The best defense against ALB is a good offense. Learn the signs of Asian Longhorned Beetle and report any suspicious insects or damaged trees:

ALB Identification: ALB is shiny black with bright white spots and long black-and-white banded antennae. The adult stage of ALB is active from about July to when a hard frost hits. It can sometimes be confused with native species such as the Whitespotted Sawyer, which is also black with white spots and long banded antennae, but can be distinguished from ALB by its lack of shininess, smaller and sparser white spots, and the presence of a white half-circle marking at the top center of its wing covers.

Tree Damage: The most easily recognizable ALB tree damage is the perfectly round exit hole, about 3/8” in diameter (a bit smaller than a dime), that the adult beetle makes when it bores out of the tree:

ALB Exit Hole

Female beetles make small divots in the bark of the tree when they lay eggs. These divots are about ½” wide and may appear orange when they are first made, though they turn gray as they age. If you look closely you can also see marks on the edges of these divots, made by the mandibles (mouthparts) of the beetle:

Egg Laying Sites

Also keep an eye out for “frass,” a sawdust-like material excreted by ALB larvae and adults as they chew their way through the wood. Frass on its own is not a definitive sign of ALB, but if you see it accumulating at the base of a tree or in the crooks of branches, be sure to check the entire tree for signs of exit holes or egg-laying sites.

Frass

The major host trees for ALB are maple, elm, willow, birch, and horse chestnut. ALB also attacks ash, poplar, and several other hardwood trees. It does not attack oak, fruit trees or softwoods (conifers like pine, fir and spruce). Eradication: The Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program, a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and the Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), is working towards the eradication of this beetle from our state. As part of this process, a 110 square mile regulated area has been set in Worcester County that includes Worcester, Boylston, Shrewsbury, West Boylston, part of Holden and a small segment of Auburn. There is also a 10 square mile regulated area encompassing parts of Boston and Brookline. These regulated areas restrict the movement of host trees, including firewood, since this can unintentionally spread ALB. In addition to enforcement, the program surveys for and removes infested trees, oversees replanting efforts, and provides educational outreach.

Detection for Protection – Managing Emerald Ash Borer in Massachusetts

Another foe of trees that was recently discovered in Massachusetts is the Emerald Ash Borer (“EAB”, scientific name Agrilus planipennis). EAB only attacks one type of tree, the ash, but the arrival of this wood-boring beetle is no less of a threat to the forest ecosystem or to the economic livelihood of firewood producers, loggers, and other forest product specialists, particularly in Western Massachusetts where ash is more prevalent. Ash is also frequently planted as a street tree or shade tree, which means that there are a lot of trees at risk in urban areas and throughout the eastern part of the state as well. The first confirmed find of EAB in Massachusetts was in the town of Dalton, part of Berkshire County, in August 2012. Based on the experiences of other states, we know that, unfortunately, EAB cannot be eradicated. EAB is expected to spread much further and faster than ALB, potentially leaving thousands of dead ash trees in its wake. Through early detection, we hope to slow the spread of this pest, giving communities more time to prepare and to make important decisions about how to manage their ash trees. Currently, Berkshire County is quarantined to prevent the spread of this forest pest via the movement of wood, especially firewood. EAB was most recently discovered in Suffolk County at the Arnold Arboretum; a quarantine in that area has not yet been established. Help slow the spread of EAB by learning the signs of this pest and reporting any suspicious sightings.

EAB Identification: EAB is a small, shiny, emerald green beetle, so small that seven of them could fit on the head of a penny! Adult beetles are active from May through August, but typically stay high in the trees and are difficult to spot.

Tree Damage: The damage caused by EAB can kill an ash tree in just a few years. Rather than boring into the heartwood of the tree like ALB, EAB larvae tunnel directly under the bark, creating S-shaped galleries that quickly cut off a tree’s nutrient and water supply:

EAB galleries under bark

Woodpecker damage increases because the larvae are easily accessible by these birds. “Blonding” is the most distinctive indicator of an EAB infestation and is caused by woodpecker damage as the birds search for larvae and pupa to eat. Unfortunately, woodpeckers do not consume EAB larvae on a level high enough to slow down or stop their spread.

"Blonding" due to increased woodpecker damage

When an EAB reaches adulthood and bores its way out of the tree, it leaves a small D-shaped exit hole about 1/4” in diameter:

EAB exit hole

Other signs of EAB infestation include dieback of the upper third of the tree’s canopy, increased woodpecker activity, and the presence of epicormic shoots (small branches that emerge in shrub-like bunches below the dead parts of the tree):

Ash tree with heavy EAB infestation

Ash trees are vulnerable to many other pests and diseases that cause some of the same symptoms. But if you see the above 3 symptoms together, report it just to be sure. Upon the discovery of Emerald Ash Borer in Dalton, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan commented, “The greatest assets we have in fighting these invasive species are everyday citizens. Understanding and being alert to the warning signs of infestation can save entire forests.”

Stop the Spread!

Anyone can contribute to stopping the spread of ALB and EAB in our state. Here are three suggestions for what you can do to help:

  1. Take ten minutes and survey your own property for signs of both beetles.
  2. Organize a talk and/or survey for a local group or organization in your area.
  3. Buy firewood only where you intend to burn it, and chip wood onsite following yard work or storm cleanup. Don’t move wood long distances because you could be accidentally spreading pests.

To learn more about these pests, or to report possible sightings, visit the following websites:

To book a FREE program or request free educational materials, please contact:

  • Stacy Kilb, 617-626-1764, stacy.kilb@state.ma.us

For all the latest information about invasive pests and plant disease in Massachusetts:


Photo credits:

Parasitic wasps aid Emerald Ash Borer control efforts in Massachusetts

There has been a lot in the news lately about Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis, “EAB”), including recent finds of this pest in both Berkshire County (Dalton, Pittsfield, and surrounding towns) and Essex County (North Andover and Methuen) in Massachusetts. Considered the most destructive pest in North America, EAB has already spread to 23 states, causing billions in economic damage and leaving millions of dead ash trees in its wake. This tiny, metallic green insect creates S-shaped galleries just underneath the bark in the cambium layer, where water and nutrients are transported. This effectively cuts off the tree’s food supply, meaning that EAB can kill an ash tree within 3-5 years of infestation.

Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis

(photo credit, right: Joshua P. Basham, Tennessee State University)

With no sign of EAB’s spread stopping, researchers have turned to several different options in dealing with this invasive forest pest. One promising strategy is the release of parasitic wasps that act as a biological control (“biocontrol”). These wasps, native to the same part of Asia as EAB, are host-specific, meaning they will only prey on Emerald Ash Borer. The two species currently being used are Tetrastichus planipennisi and Oobius agrili. Research has found that T. planipennisi parasitize up to 50% of EAB larvae, while O. agrili parasitize up to 60% of EAB eggs. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has identified 4 sites, 1 in North Andover and 3 in Dalton and Windsor, for the release of these parasitic wasps. So far, only T. planipennisi has been released in North Andover and Dalton. Further releases for this species and O. agrili are planned for later this summer.

Photos, left to right: Tetrastichus planipennisi and Oobius agrili

(photo credit: Dr. Houping Liu, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)

Biocontrol is just one way the state is working to combat the spread of EAB. You can help aid these efforts by reporting signs of EAB damage or get out in the field and join our Massachusetts Wasp Watchers Volunteer Program. Read about a first-hand experience with the Wasp Watchers Program at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Great Outdoors blog.

Worcester Receives $400K Reforestation Grant

Tree Replanting in WorcesterThe Patrick Administration today announced a $450,000 Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) grant to support reforestation in the city of Worcester after the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) infestation devastated much of the landscape. The funds will be used to replant 900 trees in Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation areas.

“The landscape across Worcester was devastated by the infestation of the Asian Longhorned Beetle,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “The Patrick Administration has worked closely with Congressman McGovern and the state legislative delegation to combat the ALB. This reforestation grant will help to rebuild a tree canopy that was decimated by these invasive pests.”

“This funding will play a vital role in the continued effort to restore Worcester’s urban forest,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “We are seeing the fruits of an unprecedented 5 year public/private partnership between federal, state, and local governments in tandem with the Worcester Tree Initiative and local corporate partners that has created a new paradigm for other states and regions to deal with similar tragedies. We have aggressively moved to eradicate the beetle, while simultaneously working to plant 30,000 new trees—more than we’ve lost.”

“DCR is pleased to have the opportunity to assist a community that was hit hard by the Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation,” said DCR Commissioner Murray. “Our agency’s Bureau of Forestry will continue to work with communities across the Commonwealth to help prevent infestation of invasive species.”

Reforestation efforts will be focused along public ways, within public parks, cemeteries and other public areas where trees were removed as part of the ALB eradication effort. A portion of this funding will also go to the Worcester Tree Initiative for tree giveaways in the impacted areas. The grant, funded through DCR’s Capital Plan, will primarily be managed by the City of Worcester’s Department of Public Works and Parks.

Since 2008, the Patrick Administration has awarded nearly $1.3 million to the communities impacted by the infestation for eradication and tree planting. ALB teams at municipal, state and federal levels have removed 32,012 neighborhood trees and replanted 19,852 trees across Worcester, Shrewsbury, Holden, West Boylston, Boylston, and Auburn, with the goal of replanting 30,000 trees. This partnership has also helped to raise awareness and educate residents to identify the ALB.

There are 3.2 million acres of privately owned forest land in Massachusetts and over 300,000 acres of DCR forests and parks. Municipal watershed lands cover 245,000 acres and there are 351 municipalities with associated urban trees and forests. The DCR Bureau of Forestry serves all of these owners and the forest they care for through various programs including the Urban and Community Forestry Program, the Forest Legacy Program, the Forest Health Program, and the Service Forestry Program.

Link to full DCR press release.
(Photo by Eric Seaborn)

2013 Plant Pest and Pathogen Survey Results

As part of the Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey (CAPS) program, in 2013 Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources staff designed and took part in a number of surveys to monitor agricultural crops in our state for the presence of non-native insect pests and plant diseases. Here are the results:

  1. Nursery inspectors performed inspections for the following non-native pests at 59 nurseries in 12 counties:

    • City longhorned beetle, Aeolesthes sarta
    • Emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis
    • Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis
    • Rough-shouldered longhorned beetle, Anoplophora chinensis
    • Mountain oak longhorned beetle,  Massicus raddei
    • Japanese pine sawyer, Monochamus saltuarius
    • Small white-marmorated longhorned beetle, Monochamus sutor
    • Chinese longhorned beetle, Trichoferus campestris
    • Mile-a-minute vine, Polygonum perfoliatum

    (Inspectors continued to monitor two existing Mile-a-minute vine infestations, both of which are under management by growers. No other pest species were found.)

  2. Staff also performed insect surveys using pheromone traps at 20 different Christmas tree farms and nurseries across the state, targeting the following pests of conifers:
    Red Delta Trap used during our Christmas Tree Farm Survey to trap moths, using pheromones and sticky cards.

    Red Delta Trap used during our Christmas Tree Farm Survey to trap moths, using pheromones and sticky cards.


    • Black Spruce Longhorned Beetle, Tetropium castaneum
    • Brown Spruce Longhorned Beetle, Tetropium fuscum
    • Japanese Pine Sawyer Beetle, Monochamus alternatus
    • Nun Moth, Lymantria monacha
    • Masson Pine Moth, Dendrolimus punctatus

    None of the above target species were found.

  3. Staff worked with volunteers on the Mass Wasp Watchers Program, a citizen science project that uses a native, non-stinging wasp to monitor for signs of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and other invasive wood-boring beetles in the Jewel Beetle family (Buprestidae). Together participants checked 23 sites and collected over 118 beetles at 12 locations across Mass. No non-native species were found.
  4. Staff completed year 4 of a biological control program using beetles to control the invasive plant Mile-a-minute vine, with release sites in Canton (Fowl Meadow, Blue Hills Reservation) and Falmouth (Frances Crane Wildlife Management Area).
  5. Staff continued work with Dept. of Fish and Game and Dept. of Conservation and Recreation staff to manage a Kudzu infestation in Needham, MA. Following herbicide applications, kudzu growth at the site has been reduced by more than 75%.
  6. Staff received Farm Bill funding to perform a survey of 20 Massachusetts orchards and vineyards to check for the presence of the following diseases and pests of stonefruit:

    • Light Brown Apple Moth, Epiphyas postvittana
    • European Grapevine Moth, Lobesia botrana
    • European Grape Berry Moth, Eupoecilia ambiguella
    • Summer Fruit Tortrix Moth, Adoxophyes orana
    • Australian Grapevine Yellows, Candidatus Phytoplasma australiense (10 sites)
    • Plum Pox Virus (Potyvirus sp. – 12 sites)

    None of the above target species were found.

  7. Staff received Farm Bill funding to perform a survey of 20 nurseries to check for the presence of the disease Ramorum Blight (Phytophthora ramorum). Over 340 leaf samples were taken, with no samples testing positive for this pathogen.

Spotting Emerald Ash Borer Damage

Blonding on an EAB-infested Ash Tree

Ash tree showing "blonding" where bark has been removed due to extensive woodpecker activity. Photo courtesy of NW Siegert, USFS

On December 9th, 2013, state officials confirmed the presence of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Essex County, Massachusetts, in the town of North Andover. Previously, EAB had only been found in Massachusetts in Berkshire County. Although Emerald Ash Borer only attacks Ash trees, it kills them within just 3-5 years of infestation, making it a very destructive pest. As you enjoy the outdoors this winter season, be on the lookout for these three signs of EAB infestation, and report any possible sightings of damaged ash trees:

  • “Blonding” of ash trees. The most distinctive indicator of an EAB infestation is blonding caused by woodpecker damage. While searching for EAB larvae and pupa to eat, woodpeckers remove bark, exposing a blondish layer of wood underneath.
  • S-shaped galleries under the bark. These serpentine galleries, caused by EAB larvae feeding on the wood, become visible when the outer bark of the tree falls off or is removed.
  • Tiny, D-shaped exit holes in the bark of ash trees, left when the adult beetles emerge from the tree in the summer.

Not sure whether you’re looking at an ash tree or not? Ash trees are best identified by the pattern of diamond-shaped ridges on their bark, and the opposite-branching of their buds and branches. To learn more, check out this guide from Vermont Invasives.

To learn more about this pest, or to report suspicious tree damage, visit massnrc.org/pests/eabreport.htm. You can also call the toll free EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512.

State Officials Confirm Emerald Ash Borer Detected in Essex County

Emerald Ash BorerBOSTON – December 9, 2013 – The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) today announced that the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been detected in Essex County, Massachusetts. The destructive beetle was detected in the Town of North Andover on November 15, 2013, and was confirmed by federal officials on November 22, 2013. Essex County is the second county in the Commonwealth to have a confirmed detection of EAB. On August 31, 2012, EAB was detected in Berkshire County in the Town of Dalton. To date, 22 states across the country have confirmed detections of EAB.

DCR and DAR officials are working together, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. Forest Service to take a number of swift proactive steps aimed at preventing the spread of the invasive beetle, including:

• Defining a quarantine area that would only allow the movement of certain wood products under certain conditions;
• Conducting a delimiting survey to help identify the extent of the infestation;
• Working with stakeholders to ensure they know how to properly treat or dispose of infested trees and materials; and
• Maintaining a ban that has been in place against bringing any firewood into state parks and forests.

“The presence of Emerald Ash Borer in our state represents a serious threat to our ash trees,” said DCR Commissioner Jack Murray. “We are taking swift action to address the infestation, and are working to mitigate any impact an infestation could bring.”

“It is important for the public to remain vigilant and to report any ash trees with signs of Emerald Ash Borer damage,” said DAR Commissioner Greg Watson. “Early detection of new infestations will help slow the spread of this pest.”

Regulated items that would fall under quarantine include the following:

• The Emerald Ash Borer, in any living stage of development;
• Firewood of all hardwood species;
• Nursery stock of the genus (Ash);
• Green lumber of the genus (Ash);
• Other material living, dead, cut, or fallen, including logs, stumps, roots, branches, and composted and uncomposted chips of the genus (Ash);
• Any other article, product, or means of conveyance that an inspector determines presents a risk of spreading EAB and notifies the person in possession of the article, product, or means of conveyance that it is subject to the restrictions of the regulations.

Emerald Ash Borer is a small, metallic green beetle, native to Asia, which feeds on ash trees. It was first discovered in North America in 2002, in the Detroit, Michigan area. Unlike many other invasive beetles, EAB kills ash trees quickly, within just 3-5 years, because it bores directly under the bark and disrupts the tree’s conductive system. Since its discovery in North America, it has killed millions of ash trees and has caused billions of dollars in economic loss nationwide.

Ash is a main component of the Northern Hardwood forest in Massachusetts and is a common species in western Massachusetts. Ash is also a popular street tree in eastern Massachusetts.

Residents are urged to take the time to learn the signs of EAB damage and be sure to report any sightings.

• Look for tiny, D-shaped exit holes in the bark of ash trees, dieback in the upper third of the tree canopy, and sprouting of branches just below this dead area.
• In the winter months, look for signs of EAB infestation left by woodpecker activity on ash trees. Fresh, light-colored wood pecks stand out against the darker bark of the tree. Severe woodpecker activity at the base of the canopy or on the main stems may indicate possible EAB infestation and should be reported to state forest health personnel immediately.
• The Emerald Ash Borer is an emerald-green metallic beetle, so small that seven of them could fit on the head of a penny.

DCR and APHIS will be scheduling listening sessions in Essex County in January to provide the community with information relative to the finding and address questions. To report suspicious tree damage or insect sightings, or to learn more about this pest, visit massnrc.org/pests/eabreport.htm. You can also call the toll free EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512.

More information about EAB: emeraldashborer.info

2013 Winter Moth Survey

It’s that time of year again: winter moths and other related species have started to show up at porch lights across the state. The winter moth (Operophtera brumata) is an invasive species first discovered in Massachusetts in the 1990s. Winter moth caterpillars are highly efficient tree defoliators, often stripping the leaves of oaks, maples and other hardwood trees down to lacy skeletons.

In mid-to-late fall, at a time of year where insect activity is practically at a standstill, these small brown winter moths will be seen across the eastern half of the state, sometimes congregating at porch lights by the hundreds. There are other similar-looking native moths active at this time of year, such as the Bruce spanworm moth and the fall cankerworm moth, but they are typically not seen in such large numbers. While the state does not regulate winter moth, some towns/cities do tree treatments, and the Elkinton Lab at University of Massachusetts Amherst currently has a biological control program underway.

Male and female winter moth. Females have tiny, vestigial wings and are flightless.

If you see winter moths this November or December, we’d like to hear from you using the survey below. The information you share will help assess the distribution of this invasive pest in our state.

Helpful links:

  • For more information on winter moth biology and management, see this fact sheet from UMass Extension.
  • For more examples of male and female winter moths and related species, see this photo gallery.
  • If you would like to email a photo, please use our Pest Reporting Form.

August is Tree Check Month!

Asian longhorned beetleemerald ash borerHave you checked your trees for signs of invasive forest pests? Insects like Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer are a threat to trees across Massachusetts. This month, we’re asking everyone to take just 10 minutes to check the trees in their yard or in nearby parks or forests, and to report any suspicious tree damage. Read below for tips on how to recognize the signs of Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer damage, and how to report possible sightings.

Save the Trees – Spot their Enemies

30,000 of something is a difficult number to imagine. It’s even more staggering to envision 30,000 trees disappearing, but that is how many hardwood trees have been lost so far to the Asian Longhorned Beetle in the greater Worcester area. Asian Longhorned Beetle (“ALB”, scientific name Anoplophora glabripennis) is an invasive pest that was discovered in Worcester in 2008, making 2013 the 5th anniversary of this discovery. It causes damage by tunneling deep into live trees, destroying them from the inside out. That makes this invasive insect a threat to hardwood trees throughout the state, and one that could have a serious negative impact on fall foliage tourism, the maple sugaring industry, and other forest product industries.

No one is sure how ALB got to Massachusetts, but we do know that it was introduced to the USA accidentally, through wooden pallets and crates used to ship goods here from Asia. Now that it is here, the risk of infested wood being transported around makes it even more important for everyone to learn to recognize the signs of an ALB infestation and to promptly report any suspicious tree damage. If pests like ALB are detected early, the impact on trees is much less severe. For example, the ALB infestation in Worcester wasn’t discovered until more than a decade after it started, giving it years to spread and resulting in the loss of those 30,000 trees. But an infestation of ALB in Boston discovered in 2010, just two years after it started, resulted in only six infested trees needing to be removed.

The best defense against ALB is a good offense. Learn the signs of Asian Longhorned Beetle and report any suspicious insects or damaged trees:

ALB Identification:

ALB is shiny black with bright white spots and long black-and-white banded antennae. The adult stage of ALB is active from about July to when a hard frost hits. It can sometimes be confused with native species such as the Whitespotted Sawyer, which is also black with white spots and long banded antennae, but can be distinguished from ALB by its lack of shininess, smaller and sparser white spots, and the presence of a white half-circle marking at the top center of its wing covers.

Tree Damage:
The most easily recognizable ALB tree damage is the perfectly round exit hole, about 3/8” in diameter (a bit smaller than a dime), that the adult beetle makes when it bores out of the tree:

ALB Exit Hole

Female beetles make small divots in the bark of the tree when they lay eggs. These divots are about ½” wide and may appear orange when they are first made, though they turn gray as they age. If you look closely you can also see marks on the edges of these divots, made by the mandibles (mouthparts) of the beetle:

Egg Laying Sites

Also keep an eye out for “frass,” a sawdust-like material excreted by ALB larvae and adults as they chew their way through the wood. Frass on its own is not a definitive sign of ALB, but if you see it accumulating at the base of a tree or in the crooks of branches, be sure to check the entire tree for signs of exit holes or egg-laying sites.

Frass

The major host trees for ALB are maple, elm, willow, birch, and horse chestnut. ALB also attacks ash, poplar, and several other hardwood trees. It does not attack oak, fruit trees or softwoods (conifers like pine, fir and spruce).

Eradication:
The Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program, a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and the Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), is working towards the eradication of this beetle from our state. As part of this process, a 110 square mile regulated area has been set in Worcester County that includes Worcester, Boylston, Shrewsbury, West Boylston, part of Holden and a small segment of Auburn. There is also a 10 square mile regulated area encompassing parts of Boston and Brookline. These regulated areas restrict the movement of host trees, including firewood, since this can unintentionally spread ALB. In addition to enforcement, the program surveys for and removes infested trees, oversees replanting efforts, and provides educational outreach.

Detection for Protection – Managing Emerald Ash Borer in Massachusetts

Another foe of trees that was recently discovered in Massachusetts is the Emerald Ash Borer (“EAB”, scientific name Agrilus planipennis). EAB only attacks one type of tree, the ash, but the arrival of this wood-boring beetle is no less of a threat to the forest ecosystem or to the economic livelihood of firewood producers, loggers, and other forest product specialists, particularly in Western Massachusetts where ash is more prevalent. Ash is also frequently planted as a street tree or shade tree, which means that there are a lot of trees at risk in urban areas and throughout the eastern part of the state as well. The first confirmed find of EAB in Massachusetts was in the town of Dalton, part of Berkshire County, in August 2012. Based on the experiences of other states, we know that, unfortunately, EAB cannot be eradicated. EAB is expected to spread much further and faster than ALB, potentially leaving thousands of dead ash trees in its wake. Through early detection, we hope to slow the spread of this pest, giving communities more time to prepare and to make important decisions about how to manage their ash trees. Currently, Berkshire County is quarantined to prevent the spread of this forest pest via the movement of wood, especially firewood. Help slow the spread of EAB by learning the signs of this pest and reporting any suspicious sightings.

EAB Identification:
EAB is a small, shiny, emerald green beetle, so small that seven of them could fit on the head of a penny! Adult beetles are active from May through August, but typically stay high in the trees and are difficult to spot.

Tree Damage:
The damage caused by EAB can kill an ash tree in just a few years. Rather than boring into the heartwood of the tree like ALB, EAB larvae tunnel directly under the bark, creating S-shaped galleries that quickly cut off a tree’s nutrient and water supply:

EAB galleries under bark

When an EAB reaches adulthood and bores its way out of the tree, it leaves a small D-shaped exit hole about 1/4” in diameter:

EAB exit hole

Other signs of EAB infestation include dieback of the upper third of the tree’s canopy, increased woodpecker activity, and the presence of epicormic shoots (small branches that emerge in shrub-like bunches below the dead parts of the tree):

Ash tree with heavy EAB infestation

Ash trees are vulnerable to many other pests and diseases that cause some of the same symptoms. But if you see the above 3 symptoms together, report it just to be sure. Upon the discovery of Emerald Ash Borer in Dalton, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan commented, “The greatest assets we have in fighting these invasive species are everyday citizens. Understanding and being alert to the warning signs of infestation can save entire forests.”

Stop the Spread!

Anyone can contribute to stopping the spread of ALB and EAB in our state. Here are three suggestions for what you can do to help:

  1. Take ten minutes and survey your own property for signs of both beetles.
  2. Organize a talk and/or survey for a local group or organization in your area.
  3. Buy firewood only where you intend to burn it, and chip wood onsite following yard work or storm cleanup. Don’t move wood long distances because you could be accidentally spreading pests.

To learn more about these pests, or to report possible sightings, visit the following websites:

To book a FREE program or request free educational materials, please contact:

  • Stacy Kilb, 617-626-1764, stacy.kilb@state.ma.us

For all the latest information about invasive pests and plant disease in Massachusetts:


Photo credits:

Crafts for Kids: Asian Longhorned Beetle Ring

Are you planning an Asian Longhorned Beetle lesson with a group of students, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or other youth group? This activity is perfect for young boys and girls! Students will learn about the morphology of Asian Longhorned Beetle (“ALB”) as you guide them through constructing an ALB ring!

Materials Needed:

  • Black Construction Paper or ALB Ring Template
  • scissors
  • black and white pipe cleaners (“chenille stems”)
  • white paint (acrylic paint works great)
  • a small paint brush
  • a hole punch (optional)

How to Construct the ALB Ring:

Step 1: Sketch an ALB body pattern on black construction paper or print out the ALB ring template.  (Tell the kids that a real ALB is about 1.5 to 2 inches long. We’re making the bodies larger so that kids can work with them more easily.)

Step 2: Using scissors, cut the ALB patterns out of the paper.  (Explain that ALB bodies are actually very shiny black, like patent leather, not matte like the construction paper or printed template.)

Step 3: Use the white paint to decorate the ALB body with spots. (Tell the students about the white spots on the back of an ALB.)

Step 4: While the paint dries, grab a black and a white pipe cleaner (“chenille stem”) and twist them together to form the ALB antennae. Twist stems completely together, end to end. (Explain that ALB is called a “Longhorned” beetle, not because they have horns, but because of their long black and white antennae.)

Step 5: Center the antennae around your middle finger and twist around to create a ring with the two antennae facing upward. (The ALB use these antennae to find one another on the trees.)

Step 6: Once your ALB spots are dry, use a hole punch or scissors to cut a small hole in the head of the ALB body (see photo).

Step 7: Hold the tips of the ALB antennae together and very carefully place them through the hole in the ALB body.  Make sure that they are very tight together, if they spread it may rip the paper.

Step 8: Carefully pull the ALB body down over the antennae, until it rests on the top of the ring.  Use caution in this step and make sure that the two sides of the antennae are held together the entire way through the hole.  If they spread apart the hole may rip open.

Step 9: You have now finished your ALB Ring!  Curl around the antennae as you see fit! (In nature they are only slightly curved towards the end, but there is a little wiggle room for creativity in your ALB ring!)

Kids can use their ALB ring to teach others about this invasive insect. They can tell others what an ALB looks like, use their hands to make the ALB look as if it is walking on a tree, or tell others how the ALB antennae help them find each other.

Public Comment Period for EAB Quarantine extended

The public comment period for the establishment of an Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Quarantine following the discovery of this invasive pest in Dalton, MA in August of this past year has been extended through 11/21/2012. For more information, including where to submit your comments and links to presentations made at the public meetings, see this document.