Monday, June 29, 2009

Week of June 29, 2009

Updated July 4 - Happy 4th!

Accord herbicide approved to control swallow-wort in NY

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has approved the use of Accord (EPA Reg. No. 62719-324) to control the unlabeled pests black swallow-wort and pale swallow-wort in non-crop areas. The FIFRA 2(ee) recommendation labeling must be in posession of the user at the time of application.


Stewards help stem spread of invasive water fleas

By Jason Subik,

GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE, NY — Many college undergraduates spend their summers working at part-time jobs or internships. Broadalbin native Kleigh Orzolek is spending her summer fighting the spread of the invasive spiny water flea on the Great Sacandaga Lake.

For 30 hours a week at $11.50 an hour, Orzolek, an undergraduate at Paul Smith’s College majoring in forestry recreation and management, is informing lake users at the Broadalbin boat launch how to spot the spiny water flea.

“They kind of look like snot at the end of your fishing pole,” Orzolek told Galway fisherman Bob Kozolwski. “They don’t seem to come up on boats much; we’re more concerned about fishing lines. They’re bottom feeders, so if you’ve got down lures or heavy bait or lures, they’ll come up on that.”

The spiny water flea is a crustacean similar to a tiny shrimp, with a straight tail, prominent tiny, dark eyespots and a bulbous egg brood patch. A native to Europe and Asia, it has no natural predators in North American lakes, thus nothing to slow its population growth. The water flea feeds on other tiny crustaceans and zooplankton, putting it in direct competition with fish.

Orzolek said she and the other lake stewards get paid through Paul Smith’s watershed program. She first learned about invasive species at Paul Smith’s during her introduction to wildlife management class, where she studied the history of Lake Champlain and its struggle with invasive species.

The Great Sacandaga Lake is the only inland lake where the spiny water flea has been found to date, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Great Sacandaga Lake Advisory Council helped organize the lake steward program this summer, modeling it after a successful program on Lake George. GSLAC Chairman Bob Monacchio said he manages the lake stewards and they are paid from an $18,000 donation the GSLAC made to Paul Smith’s. The lake stewards are positioned at the public boat launches, and since the program started June 16, the water flea has been found at every one of them except in the town of Day.

Orzolek hands out “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” stickers, which have pictures of the spiny water flea and the fishhook water flea, and another sticker with a number on it to help stewards track boats. She said she records how many times boats come into the water and ask people what other bodies of water they take their boats to.

Read the full article at link.


New York gears up to battle emerald ash borer

By Steve Orr,

EAB For the thousands of western New York residents whose property is home to millions of now-endangered ash trees, the advice from Albany is to sit tight.

"The best thing to do is for people to take a deep breath," said Robert K. Davies, the New York state forester. "We are not advising people to go out and start chemically treating their ash trees, or to start cutting down their ash trees."

State officials have received official verification that, for the first time, emerald ash borers had been found in Empire State trees. The beetles, an invasive species from east Asia, infest and kill white, black, blue and green ash trees.

Since they were first observed in southeastern Michigan in 2002, the borers have spread to 13 states from Missouri to Maryland plus the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. They have been blamed for the demise of some 70 million ashes.

The beetle larvae live and feed underneath the bark, sapping enough nutrients and water that over the course of several years the tree almost invariably dies.

The borers' discovery in a stand of three dozen ashes in Randolph, Cattaraugus County, is a reminder of the threat facing the 900 million ash trees in New York.

But Davies cautioned that ash-tree owners should wait for state officials to determine whether the Randolph discovery is an isolated infestation. [...]

If it turns out the Randolph infestation is widespread there, or if ash borers turn up in some of the 6,000 traps that state officials set out this spring, then officials will know the beetle is here for the long term. At that point, officials will work to slow their spread by doing such things as enforcing the existing restrictions on the movement of firewood within the state.

Though it may be possible to save valued individual trees through application of insecticides, officials said, the environmental and financial costs of widespread treatment make it unlikely that all ash trees in the state would survive. The beetle has no natural predators in North America.

If the borers become firmly established in New York, Davies said, the plan is to slow their progress in the hope that new, more effective treatments can be developed to halt or wipe out the beetles. New biological and chemical treatments are currently under study, he said.

Read the full story at link.


Invasives putting parks officials in PA on alert


Environmental stewardship is second nature for borough parks commission chairwoman Nancy Fales.

The moment she hits the Trillium Trail along Squaw Run Road, Fales is pointing out the varied foliage, such as geraniums and May apples, but she is also — unwittingly — plucking the barrage of invasive weeds sprouting up.

"It just gets to be second nature," Fales says, laughing. "You get to know what they look like, and you want to get them out of there."

Invasives is the term used for species such as garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed, which prove a significant threat to native plants.

But the Fox Chapel Parks Commission is trying to thwart their invasion.

"By learning to recognize some of these plants, people can remove them from our green spaces and from their own property," Fales said

Read the full story at link.


War being waged in GA against destructive foreign plants

By LEE SHEARER - Athens Banner-Herald

ATHENS, Ga. -- The foreign invaders still are winning - but humans are beginning to fight back in the war against exotic invasive plants.

Mel Cochran, the greenways coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, is training an army of volunteers - this past weekend in a program she dubbed "Invasion of the Forest Snatchers" - to identify and kill plants like privet, English ivy, honeysuckle and bamboo in their own backyards. Cochran hopes some of them will return to the North Oconee Greenway to help rid Athens-area parks and natural areas of such plant pests.

"It's bad. Our floodplain is completely infested with privet everywhere. The whole upland forest is not bad, but we have a problem there with honeysuckle. But along the riverside, biodiversity is just gone," said Heather Alley, a program coordinator at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

"We're just trying to tackle what we can with volunteers," on the greenway and in Athens-Clarke parks, said Cochran, greenways and riverside parks facilities supervisor for the Athens-Clarke Department of Leisure Services.

Read the full story at link.


The value of federal 'earmarks' in Central NY

By Cornelius B. Murphy and Linda M. LeMura
The Post-Standard

We write to provide local context and details regarding Congressionally Designated Projects, also known as "earmarks." Our campuses are currently tracking CDP projects that we see as community-focused, capacity-building, economic vitality tools. The record shows that when elected officials partner with responsible local organizations, significant benefits do result for the entire community and region. Clearly, when substantive projects are openly advanced for review and advocacy, much good can result from the CDP system.

Central New York has many pressing needs, and our elected officials have proven to be aware of and responsive to those needs, consulting regularly with constituents and effectively and honorably marshaling federal resources on our behalf.

Our region has been fortunate to receive demonstrable, significant gains from CDP-funded projects... [One] recent example is the acquisition of sophisticated equipment to strengthen the SUNY-ESF Technology to Combat Asian Long Horned Beetles in New York Forests Project.

The invasive Asian beetle is a real danger to hardwood forests, which are critical to tourism and recreation, and sustain over 77,000 jobs from the forest products industry. They are a source of renewable energy and water.

Dr. Stephen Teale secured decades of private funding from the Alphawood Foundation to support critical research and development, including testing in the beetle's natural home of China, and proved he had a technology to attract and kill or neuter this potentially devastating species.

To fund timely and strategic demonstrations, SUNY-ESF sought CDP funding. Based on the existing high-quality research and the nature of the threat, SUNY-ESF earned the support of seven Central and Western New York sponsors. Today, this CDP is moving forward in the House Agriculture appropriations bill as a model of the recently reformed and transparent CDP process. Next spring, this technology should be in the field countering the threat.

Readers are well aware of the organizations and individuals that work to address Central New York's urgent needs each day. We also are deeply fortunate to have such committed elected representatives, who are willing to advocate on our behalf in order to connect federal resources with community needs.

Cornelius B. Murphy Jr. is president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Linda M. LeMura is provost and academic vice president of Le Moyne College.

Read the full story at link.


Save the Sound awarded $1.5 MM federal stimulus grant for environmental projects

By Connecticut Fund for the Environment

Save the Sound and members of the state’s Congressional delegation were pleased to receive news today that two salt marsh restoration projects coordinated by Save the Sound would get a big boost from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) portion of the federal stimulus package. NOAA will be awarding $1.5 million through their Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Grants to two Save the Sound projects, the West River tidal gate replacement in New Haven and the Bride Brook culvert replacement at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme. [...]

The West River tide gate project in urban New Haven is the longer running of the two projects with a start date of July 2009 and an anticipated end date in the summer of 2010. Originally built to protect upstream infrastructure from flooding, these outdated and degrading colonial-era tide gates now protect Memorial Park for the many residents and park visitors. West River’s gates allow water flow in only one direction which creates marsh stagnation, a thriving habitat for invasive grasses, and poor quality water that cannot readily sustain marine life. The NOAA grant will allow construction workers and scientists to replace the existing gates with self-regulating tide gates that will allow water from Long Island Sound to flush the marsh, freshening the habitat, restoring the original ecosystem balance, and allowing fish easier passage to breeding grounds.

The Bride Brook project will restore a salt marsh system and spawning ground for alewives and herring by replacing a collapsing and occluded culvert with an open channel and large box culvert that is more hospitable to fish and marsh wildlife. The Bride Brook project is of a larger scope - in addition to the culvert replacement, over 20 acres of dune habitat will be replanted with native vegetation, and a new pedestrian and emergency vehicle passage will allow access to the eastern part of the park. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Indian River Lagoon will get federal stimulus money

By Jim Waymer,

The Indian River Lagoon will get a $6.7 million federal stimulus, of which $1.1 million will go toward restoring marshes in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. [...]

The $2.7 million that will go to the St. Johns River Water Management District includes: — $1.1 million to restore impounded coastal wetlands at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge by scraping down at least 12 miles of mosquito impoundment dike.

The project will restore more than 105 acres of spoil areas and borrow ditch to important coastal wetlands. The work will improve the function of nearly 900 more acres of wetland by removing dikes and spoil material.

St. Johns officials say the project will benefit commercially and recreationally import fish and other marine species, improve habitat for wetland wildlife and eliminate invasive plants from the area.


PATHOGEN ALERT: Late Blight of Potatoes and Tomatoes

From Massachusetts Pathogen Alert Outreach Project

Late blight, a destructive disease caused by Phytophthora infestans, is a pathogen of tomato and potato plants that has recently been found in several states in the Northeast, including Maine, New York and Pennsylvania. The late blight has been identified on tomato transplants sold in big box stores and other garden centers under the brand name Bonnie Plants, and has also been found in a potato field in Pennsylvania. Because a few instances of late blight have now been detected on tomato plants in our state, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is asking anyone growing tomatoes or potatoes to monitor them for signs of the disease, in order to prevent its further spread.

Late blight, the disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century, is caused by a fungus-like pathogen that spreads through splashing rain or wind currents. Spores can disperse from one to several miles from the point of origin, with the infection spreading most efficiently in conditions of high moisture and temperatures ranging from 60° to 80°F.

Symptoms of late blight include small olive green or brown lesions on the upper surface of the foliage or the stems. Under moist conditions, there is a white, fuzzy growth on the underside of the leaves where the lesions occur, but the absence of this growth does not rule out late blight. Eventually the lesions turn black, leaves start to die, and then the entire plant dies.

This is a serious, destructive disease that can spread quite rapidly when conditions are right, infecting an entire field within days. Any gardeners who suspect they have tomato or potato plants infected with late blight should dig them up, place them in plastic bags, and dispose of them in the trash. Commercial growers wishing to control late blight should begin spraying fungicide immediately, even before symptoms are spotted. Spraying must continue regularly, using a product containing chlorothalonil, a state restricted fungicide which requires certification to use. Growers should be prepared to destroy the plants if the late blight starts to become severe.

For more information about late blight of potato and tomato, including diagnostic images, see the following websites:

Breaking Info from UMass Extension
Fact sheet from Cornell University Extension
Photos for identification of Late Blight
Information about systemic fungicides from UMass Extension

If you think you have seen late blight of potato and tomato, you can report it on our website, or call the MDAR Plant Pest Hotline at 617-626-1779.

To sign up for pest and pathogen alerts from the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project, visit this page.


Havard, Mass. water chestnut weed pull

By Julia Quinn-Szcesuil, The Harvard Post

Harvard, Ma. - A water chestnut weed pull, from an outsider’s view, sounds like a fun, quaint way to clear weeds from a local pond.

But for the Bare Hill Pond Watershed Management Committee and the people who know about invasive water species, a weed pull is serious, necessary business. In fact, it is only one of a list of strategies of an entire watershed management plan being used to help keep Harvard’s Bare Hill Pond healthy.

Bruce Leicher, chairman of the committee, spoke with the Harvard Post recently about the perils facing the pond and how they are being addressed. The plans are trickier than just pulling weeds — they involve debates about using chemical herbicides or environment-altering winter drawdowns, in which the water level of the pond is reduced in winter to kill weeds by freezing them.

It also involves a lot of trust between town committees and a holistic approach to the pond’s health. In addition, the committee must make sure the drawdowns are working and that whatever methods they bring to the pond are not going to cause harm to the ecosystem.

The next Water Chestnut Weed Pull is Saturday, July 8 from 9 am to 1 pm. [Blogger's note: Given that July 8 is a Wednesday, the correct date may be July 18.] Volunteers are needed. Call Leicher at 978-456-8151 for more information.

Read the full story and interview at link.


Schumer to speak on ash borer in Belmont

By Brian Quinn, Daily Reporter

BELMONT, NY - Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to be at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Wednesday (July 1) to talk about trees and beetles — specifically, ash trees and the emerald ash borer (EAB).

He will be there from about 1 to 2 p.m., said Max Young of Schumer’s press office.

Young said Schumer has a three-point plan to assist the state Department of Environmental Conservation with funding and some other things. He didn’t elaborate further Monday.

“We’re going to be announcing it on Wednesday. This is something we’re very concerned, about not just because of the environment,” Young said. “This affects businesses. He’s going to be discussing the invasive species problem that’s going on all over the state, and methods of prevention.”

The EAB reportedly is generally transported with firewood.

According to the Web site, the EAB’s larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. The beetle was found in Minnesota and New York this spring, according to the Web site. Since its discovery, EAB has killed tens of millions of ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, according to the site.

Read the full story at link.


Monitoring the emerald ash borer

A new monitoring method for EAB detection was part of the Mark Whitmore Emerald Ash Borer webinar presentation on 06-25-09, available at

There is an effort underway by a few folks to conduct biosurveillance for EAB using the Cerceris wasp. Volunteers who would like to help out are welcome. This involves survey for this specific wasp species, placement of monitoring traps, routine inspection and data collection. The window for 2009 participation is limited by duration of EAB flight life cycle. Any interest from Cattaraugus or Chautauqua County near ground Zero would be well received.

Due to the time and other constraints please contact me directly if any Western New York PRISM folks have interest in receiving training and conducting wasp nest surveys.

Paul Fuhrmann
ecology and environment, inc.
368 Pleasantview Drive
Lancaster, New York 14086
Tel 716 684 8060 ext 2876
Fax 716 684 0844


Vital marine habitat under threat

Destruction of seagrass on a par with loss of rainforests and coral reefs.

By Daniel Cressey, Nature News

While the world has focused on the destruction mankind has brought to coral reefs, the massive loss of an equally important ecosystem has been widely ignored.

Now the first comprehensive assessment of the state of seagrass meadows around the world has revealed the damage that human activities have wrought on these economically and biologically essential areas.

"Seagrass loss rates are comparable to those reported for mangroves, coral reefs and tropical rainforests, and place seagrass meadows among the most threatened ecosystems on earth," write the authors of the synthesis, which is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Our report of mounting seagrass losses reveals a major global environmental crisis in coastal ecosystems, for which seagrasses are sentinels of change." [...]

Study author Frederick Short, a researcher at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, admits that there is "not that much data" available on seagrass, so the total loss is difficult to pin down exactly.

Still, he says, "It is looking quite bleak for many parts … we are abusing our coastal systems."

The vast majority of this decline, say Short and other experts, is attributable to human activity. Nutrient and sediment pollution from nearby human activities and the introduction of invasive species are both contributing to their decline. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Schumer's plan to combat emerald ash borer in NY

By Kristen Johnson, The Post-Journal

EAB trapChautauqua County is on the front lines of a war being waged against the invasive emerald ash borer and the stakes - the 900 million ash trees across New York - are high.

That was the message Wednesday from U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, who came to Crawford Furniture to talk about the borer's impact on the state and its furniture manufacturers.

''The ash borer is not yet a problem in Chautauqua County - but if we do nothing, it will be,'' Schumer said. ''That's why we've got to act. The ash here in New York is the best ash in the United States.

The ash tree is one of our most abundant and economically beneficial trees. We can't stand by and do nothing.''

During his remarks, Schumer unveiled a three-point plan he said will help fight the spread of the ash borer.

He urged the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to release emergency money and provide the technical assistance necessary to fight off the borer.

''APHIS coordinates eradication and suppression efforts for emerging plant pests,'' he said. ''With their assistance, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will be able to survey the state to determine the extent of the infestation and create and enact a plan to fight the spread of the ash borer. They have an obligation to provide this state with help to fight the infestation - the ash borer will have a devastating impact on the state's economy if we don't act.''

Schumer also urged the U.S. Forest Service to approve and release funding to fight the ash borer. He said the state DEC has applied for economic recovery funds that can be used for its invasive species early detection and rapid response project - funds that will be made available through the U.S. Forest Service.

''They requested $3.1 million not too long ago,'' Schumer said. ''If they get this money, they'll be able to put 60 people on the ground in campgrounds, parks and in the woods around the infected trees. We need that money and we need those people.''

Public education is an important part of fighting the ash borer infestation, Schumer said. He said he supports the DEC's recent application for another $2.5 million in funding from the U.S. Forest Service that will be used to help enforce firewood regulations, enact public education campaigns and improve infrastructure at campgrounds to help prevent the spread of the ash borer.

''The good news here is that we don't need legislation to get at this money,'' Schumer said. ''It's already been appropriated and the state agency has applied for it. In this case, the state is on the ball and it's the federal government that has to step up to the plate.''

Read the full story at link.

Above photo of purple trap, part of an effort by the state DEC to map the ash borer infestation. Post-Journal photo by Kristen Johnson.


Maine DEP Divers Try To Prevent Milfoil Spread

BELGRADE (NEWS CENTER) -- Divers from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection are in a race against time and nature as they try to remove a destructive invasive species from Salmon Lake in Belgrade. [...]

Only two outbreaks have been detected in Maine., one at a small private quarry in Scarbrough and the other in Salmon Lake.

Its presence is major concern. The lake flows into the entire Belgrade Lakes system.

"Eurasian Milfoil is a high priority for us, because it is a tenacious grower, it spreasds very quickly and you combine that with finding it in the Belgrade Lakes system, which is a gem of a lakes system in Maine, we treat this very seriously," said Paul Gregory, an environemtnal specialist with the DEP.

In five previous dives this summer, 260 plants were removed.

More than a hundred were found in the most recent dive, which is a sign that the plant is spreading.

Read the full story at link.


Victory is declared on Long Island in fight against invasive water plant

BY MICHAEL WHITE, The Riverhead News-Review

Ludwigia signRepresentatives of an amalgam of government and environmental groups announced Tuesday the "successful eradication" of an invasive South American plant that was choking off Peconic River fish habitats.

The speakers on the riverfront in Calverton credited not only inter-agency cooperation and grant money, but also 350 volunteers and 1,500 man-hours in the triumphant, three-year-long effort to clear Long Island's longest river of Ludwigia peploides, also known as water primrose.

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation's Long Island director, Peter Scully, kicked off the celebratory press event by noting what a rare occasion it was to declare victory over an invasive species.

He also thanked those involved, including DEC staff, The Nature Conservancy, Peconic Lakes Estates Civic Organization, Freshwater Anglers of Long Island and Long Island Bassmasters.

"This successful eradication program shows how, when organizations and volunteers work together toward a common goal, a seemingly impossible challenge can be overcome," he said.

But constant work is needed to keep the plant from again overtaking the river, officials said. And to keep other invasive species at bay.

"This is a real success story. But this is not over," said Rick Balla of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New York City office. "There are lots of other plants and animals that are just waiting to get into the river and the watershed."

One of five DEC signs that outline the ongoing battle against the aquatic plant also was unveiled at the event. Each of the signs, all placed at access points to the river, shows pictures of the brightly colored, lush green plant -- ludwigia spreads like a blanket over slow-moving water -- and explains how swimmers, kayakers and anglers can identify and remove the weed.

"We've really knocked the weed back so that it's just a sprig here and a sprig there, but if those sprigs are left, it will come back," said DEC fisheries manager Charles Guthrie, explaining the idea behind the signs. "We didn't want to be in the business of planning major weed pulls every year. So what we thought we could do is recruit the other users of the river to help pull the weed whenever they saw it."

The movement to remove the plant from the river was launched in 2006, DEC officials said.

And while it's unclear why the aquatic plant began showing up in the river in 2003, one theory traces it to its ornamental use in landscaped ponds, said Laura Stephenson, the DEC's Peconic Estuary Program coordinator. "And it reproduces by fragments," she said. "So if you have a fragment and it breaks off and you put it somewhere else, it can form a whole new infestation. It can even get stuck on somebody's boat propeller, and then you put the boat in another body of water and there you go."

Although the spread of ludwigia currently is contained, maintenance harvesting events still are necessary throughout the river to prevent its return, DEC officials emphasized.

Two "weed pulls" are scheduled for this summer, the first July 11 and the second Aug. 8. Those willing to volunteer should contact Laura Stephensen at 631-444-0871.

Read the full story at link.


Phragmites: Good for Something

By Erin Schultz, The Suffolk Times

Be it a roof in Ireland, placemats in Michigan or an ink pen in New Hampshire, people around the globe are finding sensible uses for the stalk of the phragmites -- an invasive weed that's been an omnipresent nuisance on the North Fork for decades.

But in Southold [New York], the plants are being disposed of like any other garbage.

"If someone has a use for these things, I'd be happy to supply them," said Steve Marino, a wetland biologist from upstate who worked every day last week to finally clear the shoreline of Marion Lake of the harmful weed.

"It can be used," he said, adding that Europeans have been building thatched roofs out of phragmites stalks for hundreds of years.

Three years ago, New Hampshire resident Dave Kellam also picked up on the idea of recycling the invasive plant. He started a business venture called "Phragwrites," manufacturing ink pens from the stalks and selling them online at [...]

On Sunday and Monday, local Boy Scouts cut approximately 40,000 square feet from a phragmites-riddled area at Peconic Landing in Greenport. Their effort was part of an herbicide-free eradication effort by Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Art Leudesdorf, supervisor of construction and projects at Peconic Landing, said that the stalks will be taken to the Southold landfill as "agricultural matter."

"We're disposing of them as best as we can," he said. But he added that a project focusing on recycling the reeds -- like building a thatched cottage -- would have been nice for the scouts.

"We just didn't have anything lined up," he said.

Back in East Marion, Ms. Luscher said she didn't have any "terrific ideas yet" on what to do with the dead phragmites from Marion Lake, but said she thought the concept of "Phragwrites" was "real cute."

Though last year was the first year "Phragwrites" made a profit, Mr. Kellam said he "could never make enough pens to use all of the phrag. Unfortunately, there is plenty for all of us."

Read the full article at link.


Phrag, for thatching : 7/2/2009

My company has thatched several roofs in NY, including 2 on Long Island using phragmites imported from Holland. It would be great to use local material. Cut in the winter months this would be an ideal project for a landscaping crew who are usually slow that time of year. 1-888-842-8241.


Destructive Asian longhorned beetle may already be in Rhode Island

By Ethan Shorey, The Valley Breeze

Buying local has taken on a whole new level of exigency.

If you fail to purchase your firewood from a local merchant this summer season, say those in the know, northern Rhode Island could quickly become a breeding ground for one of the most destructive pests North America has ever seen, one that could cause thousands of trees to be felled and devastate the nursery industry.

The matter is so urgent, they tell The Valley Breeze, in part because the Asian longhorned beetle may already be here.

"The likelihood of them being in Rhode Island is real because of our close proximity to Worcester (Mass.)," said Elizabeth Lopes-Duguay, spokeswoman for the Division of Agriculture with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. "They may be here, but we just haven't found them yet."

The cost of eliminating this invasive species has run into the millions of dollars in cleanup, eradication and replanting efforts in past outbreaks across the nation, according to media accounts. Last summer the bug caused millions of dollars in damage to the Worcester area and the loss of thousands of trees, decimating the environment there.

The Asian longhorned beetle can't travel far on its own - only about 400 yards to find a new host tree - say officials, but a comfy ride on the back of a pickup truck can give the bug just the help it needs to spread like wildfire. [...]

The potentially catastrophic beetle situation in Rhode Island is so serious that it prompted dual bills in the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives this year that would declare the beetle a nuisance and make it a crime punishable by a $25,000 fine for bringing the species into the state.

According to a news release from the North Smithfield Conservation Commission, "Worcester's landscape has been drastically altered due to the more than 20,000 trees that have been removed during eradication."

"These tree-killing insects have no known predators in North America and the only way to stop their spread is to cut down and incinerate the wood of host trees," states the release.

Rhode Island has received a significant amount of financial assistance from the federal government to combat a potential outbreak, according to Duguay. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is attempting to eradicate the long-horned beetle due to the threat it poses to the nation's natural forests, according to multiple news reports.

Last fall, after the longhorned beetle was discovered in Worcester, representatives for the Rhode Island DEM removed and destroyed a half cord of firewood suspected of carrying insect larva from a home in Cranston. The homeowners there had received the wood from property they own in Worcester. [...]

Asian beetles emerge during the summer months, feeding on leaves and twigs, but may also be spotted around yards, patios, decks, on car hoods, or climbing the side of a house. The hardwood-loving beetle typically infests maple, birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow and elm trees.

One misperception is that the adult beetle is responsible the major destruction of a tree. Instead, the adults lay their eggs just below the bark surface and then when the eggs hatch into larvae, the baby beetles then make their way down through the tree to emerge only near the end of their life cycle next summer. Even after the first heavy frost this fall kills off the adult longhorned beetle, said Duguay, the larvae will continue the damage through the winter months. Residents will know they have a beetle problem if they observe perfectly round, two-centimeter holes in their trees and "frass," or what looks like sawdust and is made up of tree shavings, sap, and insect excrement.

Rhode Island residents are encouraged to report any suspicious tree damage or potential insect sightings by calling a hotline number, 866-702-9938.

Read the complete article at link.


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