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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: August 4, 2009
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402

DEM CONDUCTS PUBLIC OUTREACH EFFORT, ASKS PUBLIC TO NOTIFY DEPARTMENT IF THEY SUSPECT PRESENCE OF INVASIVE ASIAN BEETLE
August is Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month in RI

PROVIDENCE - Through a cooperative effort with the USDA and Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), the Department of Environmental Management is coordinating a comprehensive public outreach and detection program for the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). ALB is an invasive insect that came to the United States in wooden shipping crates from China and Korea more than 10 years ago. It affects hardwood shade trees such as maple, ash, birch, willow and elm by boring into the core of the tree and eventually killing it. This beetle has the potential of wiping out thousands of the state's trees if it goes undetected.

Governor Carcieri has declared August as Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month in Rhode Island, and residents are encouraged to become familiar with the signs and symptoms of ALB. The Department is asking the public, in addition to nurserymen, commercial pesticide applicators, arborists and other tree health specialists, to notify the Department if they observe any insects resembling the ALB or see symptoms or damage related to this beetle in Rhode Island.

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 1 cm (3/8") in diameter.

Signs of ALB infestation include perfectly round, 3/8-inch 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.

DEM to Survey Trees in Cranston and Warwick for Signs of ALB

This month, DEM is coordinating a comprehensive outreach and ground survey program for ALB in Cranston and Warwick. DEM identified the two municipalities for this survey because of the large level of industry and enterprise in the area. Surveys will take place in Cranston's Elmwood and Arlington neighborhoods and in Friendly Community, the neighborhood where wood was brought from an ALB-infested area of Worcester last fall. Surveys in Warwick will be conducted in residential and industrial areas in the vicinity of Warwick Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard. DEM has contracted with the RI Tree Council to provide technical assistance with the state's outreach and survey activities, which are designed to inform the public and keep the state ALB-free.

Survey participants will be easily identifiable, dressed in "ALB Survey" shirts, and will be inspecting the top portion of hardwood trees using binoculars. They will be looking for signs of ALB, such as egg-laying sites and exit holes. If a survey participant needs access to private property, they will request permission from the home or business owner. Survey participants have no interest in entering homes and would like to inspect the hardwood trees only. The ground surveys will be conducted in Cranston during the week of August 17 and during the week of August 24 in Warwick, weather permitting.

Campers, Others Asked to Use Only Local 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.

Public Can Now Report Suspect ALB Sightings Online on DEM Website

DEM has a new online reporting form on its website for the public to use to report sightings of the ALB or Emerald Ash Borer. Developed by RI.gov, this new reporting mechanism asks for the user's valid email address and then sends an email with a link to the reporting form. The user then submits their contact information and a description of the pest. RI.gov will send the collected information to DEM on a regular basis to assist with the ongoing ALB detection program. The form is available on the DEM website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Report Asian Longhorned Beetle" under Timely Topics on the homepage.

In addition to the online reporting mechanism, residents may also call the toll-free ALB hotline at 866-702-9938 to report any possible sightings of ALB. For further information, contact Liz Lopes-Duguay of DEM at 640-4509 or via email at liz.lopesduguay@dem.ri.gov, Bruce Payton, supervising forester in DEM's Division of Forest Environment at 568-2013 or via email at bruce.payton@dem.ri.gov, or Kate Sayles of the RI Tree Council at 764-5885 or via e-mail at albfreeri@gmail.com. Information on ALB is also available on the DEM website at www.dem.ri.gov.

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