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It’s Tree Check Month!

Emerald Ash BorerDid you know that this August has been officially recognized by the US Department of Agriculture as Tree Check Month? Insects like Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer currently threaten hardwood forests in Massachusetts, and Tree Check Month is the perfect time to check your trees for signs of damage. Take ten minutes of your time to find out how to spot signs of damage from these insects and to check your trees to ensure their health and survival!

Both beetles target hardwood trees, a valuable part of our forests, wildlife, economy, and tourism industry. Emerald ash borer primarily goes after ash, but Asian longhorned beetle targets a wide variety of common hardwood trees, including maple, elm, birch, willow and poplar. With maple the preferred host of ALB, this is a pest of great concern for all of New England. Due to the long time it takes ALB to kill one tree (8-10 years), and the slow speed at which it spreads, it is possible to contain and eradicate Asian longhorned beetle infestations. Once ALB was discovered in Worcester back in 2008, a cooperative eradication program began, led by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), that has resulted in a significant decline in the levels of ALB in the Greater Worcester area. But the eradication program still has a lot of work to do, and even though they have surveyors actively surveying for damage, they still depend on input from the public to alert them to new or missed infestations.

Tree Check Month is an ideal time to search for Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), since this is when the adults are most active. They can be identified by their long white-and-black banded antennae and black body with white spots but you are more likely to see tree damage than the beetles themselves. Typical signs of damage on trees include:

Perfectly round pencil-sized holes

Shallow oval scars that serve as egg sites

Long matchstick-like “frass” that indicates presence of larvae

Another pest we are concerned about in Massachusetts, the emerald ash borer (EAB), mainly targets ash trees. Due to the rapidity with which it kills trees, this invasive insect is difficult to contain and eradicate. However, reporting signs of EAB damage is still important, to alert cities and towns where the beetle could cause problems, to allow them to prepare for EAB’s arrival, and to eliminate safety hazards posed by dying ash trees. The adult beetle is small and iridescent green, with a coppery or purple color beneath the wing case. But just like ALB, you are more likely to see tree damage than the beetle. Search ash trees for these four signs of EAB damage and report any suspicious finds:

D-shaped exit hole on trees

S-shaped tunnels and galleries underneath the bark created by larva

“Blonding” due to woodpeckers stripping the bark of trees when they search for larvae

Crown dieback and shoots on the lower part of the tree

Be proactive about stopping the spread of these and other invasive insects by taking ten minutes this month to check the trees where you live or work for signs of damage. If you do find any signs or think you see a suspicious beetle, report it at our pest reporting website.

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