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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: October 8, 2008
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402

DEM REMOVES FIREWOOD SUSPECTED OF CARRYING ASIAN LONGHORNED BEETLE LARVA FROM CRANSTON PROPERTY
The Wood From a Maple Tree Had Been Brought Into State From an Area in Worcester, MA Where the Invasive Insect Was Found This Summer

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management last week removed a half cord of firewood suspected of carrying Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) larva from a home in Cranston's Friendly Community neighborhood. The homeowners received the wood in July from property they own with a friend in Worcester, MA that had ALB infested trees on site. DEM was notified about the presence of the wood from the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS), after the Worcester resident reported the incident to APHIS.

Staff from DEM's Divisions of Agriculture and Forest Environment took swift action to remove the firewood from the Cranston property, secure and destroy it. One piece of wood from a maple tree showed evidence of ALB, with one suspected larva that DEM staff have preserved for identification.

As a precautionary measure, DEM staff will survey the Cranston neighborhood where the ALB suspect firewood was found to determine whether there is any additional indication of the presence of the invasive beetle. DEM staff used binoculars to observe the trees on the property with the ALB suspect firewood along with trees on a neighboring property, and did not find any indication of potential ALB infestation. However, as a precautionary measure, DEM will conduct a follow-up survey of the neighborhood.

DEM notified the City of Cranston about the issue and will be conducting public information and outreach efforts to inform the public about the importance of using only Rhode Island grown firewood. ALB typically does not spread quickly on its own, but it can easily be inadvertently transported in untreated firewood and other forest products. All Rhode Island residents are reminded to purchase firewood from local sources and not transport firewood from out of state. Firewood brought into Rhode Island from infested areas can easily bring along unwanted hitch hikers like ALB and other harmful forest pests.

An invasive insect that is native to China and other areas of eastern Asia, the ALB is a serious threat to many species of deciduous hardwood trees. The invasive insect can cause widespread mortality of poplar, willow, elm and maple trees. In addition, nursery stock, logs,green lumber, firewood, stumps, roots, branches, and wood debris of a half-inch or more in diameter are subject to infestation. The ALB was first discovered in the United States in 1996 in Brooklyn, New York and has also been found in Worcester, MA, New Jersey and Chicago. It is believed that the beetle was brought to the US in wooden packing material used in cargo shipments from China.

The beetle is large, ranging from 0.75 - 1.25 inches in length with very long black and white antennae. The body is glossy black with irregular white spots. The distinctive antennae that give the beetle its common name are as long as the body itself in females, and almost twice the body length in males. Adult ALB emerge from late spring to early fall and feed on tree bark and tender twigs. During its larval stage, the ALB bores deep in the tree's heartwood, where it feeds on the tree's nutrients. This tunneling damages and eventually kills the tree. The adult ALB then chews its way out of the tree the next summer, leaving perfectly round exit holes that are approximately 1cm (3/8") in diameter.

Signs of ALB infestation include perfectly round, dime-sized exit holes; frass, a sawdust-like material comprised of tree shaving and insect waste; and oozing sap. Dead and dying tree limbs or branches and yellowing leaves in areas where there has been no drought may also be a sign of ALB. Research indicates this beetle can survive and reproduce in most sections of the country where suitable host trees exist. The Department added ALB to the list of insects it looks for during routine tree pest surveys in 1999.

DEM Divisions of Agriculture and Forest Environment provided assistance to Massachusetts in its efforts to eradicate the ALB by providing ground support for the intensive tree survey it is conducting in the affected area. This allowed DEM staff to acquire hands-on experience with the intensive survey techniques and eradication protocol used in responding to an ALB infestation. DEM will continue to monitor actions in Massachusetts and confer with APHIS, the US Forest Service, and state and private forestry officials on the collection of data related to the ALB infestation in Worcester.

Given the close proximity to Worcester, DEM in August sent informational materials about the ALB to members of the RI Nurserymen and Landscape Association, RI Tree Council, URI Master Gardeners, licensed arborists, tree wardens, commercial pesticide applicators, and others in the plant health and tree care industries.

In cooperation with the Department's Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey program, the Division of Agriculture asks to be notified of any insect suspects or damage symptoms related to the ALB. If you think you have seen this insect, please do not disturb infested trees or move any wood that you think could be affected by this pest. To report suspected ALB sightings or damage, contact DEM's Division of Forest Environment at 568-2013, or Liz Lopes-Duguay, senior environmental scientist in the Division of Agriculture at 222-2781 or 949-1770, or via email at liz.lopesduguay@dem.ri.gov. Residents can also report sightings to APHIS via their website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov, or via the toll-free hotline at 866-702-9938. For more information about ALB, residents may also contact Dr. Richard Casagrande in the Plant Sciences Department at URI at 874-2924.

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