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

New Materials are Here!

Just in time for summer, we have a new batch of outreach materials to help remind everyone about Asian longhorned beetle (ALB)! First, we have reprinted our popular post-it notepads, now with an updated design.  Each pad has a link to our ALB website as a reminder of where to get more information about this pest and where to report any ALB sightings.

We also have a limited supply of our new vinyl ALB stickers, designed with outdoor use and longevity in mind. These would look great on hard hats, travel mugs, laptops, and more!

In case you’ve heard about spotted lanternfly (a hot topic this year) and would like to spread awareness about it, we have also restocked our spotted lanternfly ID cards.  These cards are sized to fit in a picket or wallet and are hard enough to scrape any spotted lanternfly egg cases off of surfaces.

All these materials, as well as the rest of our outreach materials, can be ordered free of charge here.

EAB in Massachusetts

The spread of emerald ash borer (EAB) appears to show no signs of slowing down. Nine more communities across six different counties have been confirmed to have the pest this year alone.

  • Hampden County – Holyoke, Westfield, Springfield
  • Hampshire County -Belchertown, Southampton
  • Middlesex County- Pepperell
  • Norfolk County- Medway, Wellesley
  • Worcester County- Lunenburg

If you suspect you have seen EAB in an area not indicated on the map above, get a photo of the damage if you can, and report it here.

Did You Miss the Emerald Ash Borer Preparedness Workshop?

This past April, the Mass Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) partnered with the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to host an Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Preparedness Workshop in Pittsfield, MA. The day-long event provided attendees with an update on the current status of EAB in our state as well as information on the management strategies and resources available to communities who need to prepare for its arrival. Representatives from across Massachusetts met with state and federal officials for a series of lectures followed by a moderated discussion. The afternoon field session gave participants a chance to get a first-hand-look at some of the damage caused by this pest, and to watch demonstrations of tree treatments and and trap hanging.

If you were unable to attend the forum or would simply like to check out all of the great resources provided that day, we have now made them available online! Detailed notes covering all of the day’s sessions, PowerPoints for each of the presentations, and digital versions of the resources provided are now available on our EAB page.

It’s Sawyer Season!

Spring is finally in the air, which means insects are as well. One insect you should become familiar with is the whitespotted pine sawyer, a native longhorned insect that looks a lot like the invasive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB)! While these two species are easily confused, there are several big differences to keep in mind should you find a dark beetle with long antennae this spring or summer:

  • Whitespotted pine sawyer emerges in May, and populations usually peak around Memorial Day. ALB does not emerge until July.
  • Sawyers target dead and dying pine trees, while ALB attacks living hardwoods. In fact, you often find sawyers near stands of pine.
  • Sawyers are a dull brown or dark color with a rough texture to their wing cases. ALB will be black and very shiny, like a patent leather.
  • MOST DISTINCTLY, whitespotted pine sawyers have a distinct white half-circle shape between their wing covers, just behind the head (see red arrow). Asian longhorned beetle lacks this spot.

If you find a beetle that you think could be ALB, you can report it here. Be sure to get photos or capture the specimen.

Up Close and Personal With Emerald Ash Borer

Are you in or near a town impacted by the invasive wood-boring pest known as the Emerald Ash Borer? Foresters from the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation will be holding two in-field trainings this May in order to teach people how to recognize this ash-killing pest. Each session will cover the following:

  • How to identify Emerald Ash Borer tree damage
  • How to hang traps to monitor for EAB
  • How to girdle a tree in order to perform monitoring and Emerald Ash Borer population control
  • How to perform a pesticide tree injection

If you are a municipal worker, land trust staff, or green industry professional potentially impacted by Emerald Ash Borer, and are interested in attending, contact us to sign up for one of the following sessions:

  • Thursday, May 3rd at 10 am in Shirley, MA
  • Tuesday, May 8th at 10 am in North Andover, MA

To register or get more information, please contact Javier Marin, Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator at Javier.marin@state.ma.us or 617 626-1738.

Spotted Lanternfly Update

Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula, “SLF”) is an invasive planthopper native to Asia that was first discovered in Pennsylvania in September 2014. It has since been detected in New York, Virginia, and Delaware. Thought to have been introduced via shipments of crushed stone, SLF is a threat to grapes, peaches, apples, other hardwood trees, and hops, . While spotted lanternfly has not yet been detected in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is concerned about the threat this invasive pest poses to orchards, vineyards, and to the forest product industry, and has been educating the public and performing inspections at high risk sites in order to increase awareness about SLF.

As it begins to warm up this spring, spotted lanternfly will once again become active. This increases the risk that SLF could be accidentally introduced to Massachusetts by hitchhiking on goods being shipped here from other states, or on vehicles traveling across the Northeast. Here are some tips to recognize this invasive pest:

  • Nymphs pass through a variety of immature stages (called “instars”) and look quite different than their winged adult form.
  • Egg masses are often found on smooth bark, stone or any vertical surface and appear to resmble gypsy moth egg masses, but instead of having a yellowish “fur” coating that gives them the appearance of having been covered in a mud-like substance.
  • SLF prefers tree-of-heaven (Aillanthus altissima) as a host plant, and may be found congregating on the trunks of this species in large numbers.
  • As SLF feed, they can produce weeping sap wounds in the trunks of trees, as well large concentrations of excreted honeydew, which both promotes sooty mold growth

 

Please keep an eye out for the signs of SLF infestation and report any suspicious finds via our invasive pest reporting form.

Image result for Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Photos via Penn. Dept. of Agriculture

Are You In Compliance?

Any individual or commercial business that works handling woody tree material in Worcester, Boylston, West Boylston, Shrewsbury, Holden, or Auburn needs to go through annual compliance training to ensure they know about Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).  ALB is an invasive wood-boring insect from Asia that was discovered in Worcester in 2008. Woody material, including branches, tree stumps, and firewood, is a primary vector for this pest because humans can spread ALB around when they move infested wood. Because of this, it is critical that companies such as tree removal services, nurseries, and landscapers know how to identify the beetle and its damage, how to handle woody material, and how to dispose of material in compliance with state and federal regulations.

Training participants look over some of the handout materials

Compliance training is led by an employee of the ALB Cooperative Eradication Program , a Worcester-based program that includes staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The 45-60 minute sessions are available for companies to send their employees at no cost. A range of topics are discussed, including the biology and life cycle of ALB, the history of the infestation in the Greater Worcester Area, details on the Regulated Area (the area where surveyors look for infested trees and from where woody material can’t be removed, ALB eradication plans and progress, and regulatory compliance. During the training, attendees are able to examine beetle specimens in different life stages as well as samples of tree damage. Participants receive licensing and vehicle stickers to prove that they’ve completed the training.

Display showing Asian longhorned beetles in different life stages, and types of ALB tree damage

The ALB regulated area currently covers 110 square miles. Because resources are limited and there are only so many surveyors available, it is critical that groups who work with wood are trained in ways to detect and report signs of ALB. As the trainer noted, “It may take us up to two years to get back to inspect a tree, so that’s why we need you.” Reports from green industry professionals and residents have resulted in several new finds of ALB, so the more people are aware of ALB and how to identify it, the better.

The training contains a lot of very valuable information that is critical for anyone doing tree work in the Regulated Area. To sign you or your company up for a free training session, call 508-852-8110. To anyone in the Regulated Area looking to hire someone to do work on their property, a list of all businesses up to date on their compliance training can be found here.

Calling All 5th Grade Arborists and Artists!

pictured is 2017’s winning entry from Elm Street School, with the theme Trees are Terrific…from Berkshires to Bay!

Are you a 5th grade teacher or a 5th grade student with a passion for art or nature?  Then we have the perfect opportunity for you! The Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced its 2018 Arbor Day Poster Contest, a chance to win cool prizes for your school by showing off your artistic talent and knowledge of the diverse trees of Massachusetts!

This year’s theme is “My Community, My Trees” and is open to all fifth grade students in Massachusetts, including homeschoolers. If your students are interested in entering, we encourage them to research Massachusetts ecosystems, urban forests, native trees, and how trees impact your lives. Knowing about your community’s trees and how to identify and protect them is an important part of protecting them against invasive forest pests such as Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) and Emerald Ash Borer. The Arbor Day Contest is also a great opportunity to promote your school and your message about trees and forestry here in the Bay State.

We would be especially interested in hearing from you about posters that feature ALB or other forest pests and the trees they target.  While we are not involved in judging posters, posters that discuss invasive pests, even if they are not finalists, may be displayed here to promote our message of pest awareness!  We’ll also display winning entries here on our blog!

The deadline for submission is March 15th 2018, with winners announced in April. Only one poster may be submitted per school.  Please be sure to follow all instructions when submitting a poster.  A full list of rules can be found here.

Good luck, and have fun researching trees in Massachusetts!

Our January Outreach Impact

January is always a busy month for us, and serves as a perfect tone setter for the new year’s outreach. Even when it’s cold and snowy out there’s plenty of opportunities to inform different sectors of the public about Asian longhorned beetle and other threats to our Massachusetts forests!

Our first event was the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association annual meeting. This gathering was a mix of tree professionals and town employees from across the state seeking information about tree management practices and conservation efforts. The forest pest outreach program was there to inform them how to identify and report pests of concern. Tawny Simisky of UMass Extension School gave a talk about invasive insects including winter moth, gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, short-needle evergreen scale, and spotted lanternfly. Though lanternfly has not yet been found in Massachusetts, we took this opportunity to educate people on this destructive pest at our outreach table as well.

Spotted lanternfly ID cards that were available at our booth and available for distribution

The Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting is one of our biggest events each year, with over 1200 people attending this year. Attendees were a mix of municipal employees, town council members, and the general public. In addition to talking about the ongoing Asian longhorned beetle infestation and eradication program in Worcester, we were able to share information with numerous people who worked in or near towns with confirmed emerald ash borer infestations, setting the stage for future outreach and presentations to make action plans on pest control.

John Lebeaux, the MDAR Commissioner, stopped by our table to talk about invasive pests and our outreach efforts

The New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo provides an opportunity to reach outdoor enthusiasts, a very different but equally crucial audience – the general public has been responsible for many past detections of Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer.

A glimpse at some of the vendors at the Fishing and Outdoor Expo

Throughout January we were able to impact over 300 people and distribute more than 1500 different items. It’s been a strong start to the year, and we plan on continuing our successful efforts through the rest of 2018!

2017 Emerald Ash Borer Expansion

In 2017 we saw more emerald ash borer (EAB) detections in Massachusetts than any previous year on record. Nine new municipalities, including a new record for Norfolk County, were added to the list of infested areas. The communities in which EAB was detected included:

• Berkshire Country- West Stockbridge
• Hampshire County- Easthampton, Northampton, and South Hadley
• Middlesex County- Shirley and Waltham
• Norfolk County – Brookline, Dedham
• Essex County- Georgetown

There are now a total of 26 municipalities in 8 counties where EAB has been found.

These detections were discovered using a combination of methods, including active surveillance, trapping, and reports from the public made to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ EAB Reporting Form. In Brookline, a number of beetles were caught mid-summer using pheromone traps.

While Brookline marked the first community in Norfolk County to be confirmed to have EAB, it was quickly followed by the town of Dedham, where a member of the town’s Conservation Commission reported a potentially infested ash tree near the Wigwam Pond area. MDAR forwarded the report to the DCR Forest Health Program, who confirmed through inspection that a number of trees showed signs of EAB damage. Like Dedham, a report to MDAR from a concerned resident in the town of Shirley led officials to inspect a suspected EAB site which was also later confirmed to be positive.The infestations in Waltham and Georgetown were discovered by MDAR’s biosurveillance program, Mass. Wasp Watchers.

Monitoring done by DCR’s Forest Health Program also led authorities to the Bachelor Brook-Stony Brook Conservation Area, owned by the town of South Hadley, and the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Northampton and Easthampton. Inspections of natural ash stands in the area were conducted in conjunction with representatives of The Nature Conservancy and Mass Audubon. It is suspected that the infestations found there have been present for at least two to three years.

As EAB continues its spread, towns and cities adjacent to known infestations are being encouraged to check their own ash trees for signs of damage. MDAR is also fostering the development of EAB Community Action teams in these high priority areas. Teams receive educational materials to spread awareness, as well in field training to better identify and report any suspected EAB infestations.Communities are also urged to create EAB Management Plans to better mitigate the potential impacts to their ash trees.

If you suspect you have seen EAB in an area not indicated on the list above, get a photo of the damage if you can, and report it here.

Emerald ash borer specimens caught in Georgetown by MDAR staff while Wasp Watching in Essex County.