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Looking Back: Forest Pest Awareness Month 2016

Once again in 2016 August was officially declared Forest Pest Awareness month by the governor as part of an effort to raise awareness about invasive insects such as Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer. Over the course of August, much was done to increase the public’s awareness of these introduced pests.

forest pest awareness month decree

The official announcement and proclamation for Forest Pest Awareness Month, signed by the governor

Due to the longevity of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) eradication program in central Massachusetts, it remains important to continually update citizens on the efforts of the eradication program and the current state of the infestation. The most common questions we get at public events are about whether ALB has spread to a certain town or city, how close the ALB Cooperative Eradication Program is to completely getting rid of the beetle, and how to identify this invasive pest. People also often ask questions about other insects they’ve seen and are concerned about, or about suspicious damage to one of their trees. We are always happy to answer these questions and help teach curious citizens how monitor their own trees and properties for invasive pests.

Here is just a sampling of events we attended during this year’s Forest Pest Awareness Month.

Green Hill Neighborhood Association Annual Picnic, Worcester, 8/06/16

Tabling a local event

The ALB Cooperative Eradication Program provided attendees with up-to-date information about their work. Being invited to table at this event was a great opportunity to address homeowners directly in a neighborhood hit hard by the ALB infestation.
9th Annual Barbara J. Walker Butterfly Festival, Worcester, 8/13/16

A family models ALB antennae

The Butterfly Festival is a popular event held each year at Worcester’s Broad Meadow Brook Audubon Conservation Center and Wildlife Sanctuary. Families who attended learned how to identify ALB while enjoying the beautiful walking trails (populated with ALB-susceptible maples). We gave away lots of ALB antennae headbands, always a very popular item with kids and families…after learning about how to positively identify ALB, kids can look like one!

Westborough Farmers Market, Westborough, 8/18/16

Westborough lies outside the quarantine area, and luckily has not experienced any ALB survey activity. However, it borders the eastern edge of the quarantine, and market attendees were very interested in learning about the beetle and current eradication efforts.

37th Annual Holden Days, Holden, 8/27/16

A typical table setup for our outreach events

Large events like Holden Days bring a steady stream of people to our table with great questions about ALB. We were visited by plenty of very knowledgeable students eager to share what they knew about ALB, as well as outdoor-oriented families looking for information about how to identify ALB and the trees it attacks.

During August we also sent outreach packages to 5 additional events and organizations, and distributed over 1,200 items such as ALB ID cards, host tree species guides, temporary tattoos, and antennae headbands. But forest pest awareness does end with August! Asian Longhorned Beetles pose a year-round threat that has to be constantly monitored. If you have an event that you would like to hand out ALB material at, you can order educational materials free of charge at http://bit.ly/FPOMOrder, or reach out to joshua.bruckner@state.ma.us if you’re interested in MDAR staff attending a future event your organization is planning.

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