Monday, April 18, 2011

Looking for the Asian Longhorn Beetle

No, I'm not bird watching.

I'm actually looking for the tell tale signs of the highly destructive Asian Longhorn Beetle on one of its favorite host species on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall -- the maples.

This event was organized by BU's Global Day of Service in partnership with the Friends of the Boston Public Garden, who provided guides and information sheets to identify the pest.

The Asian longhorn beetle was discovered in the Worcester, MA, area in August 2008 and has since been responsible for the decimation of more than 300,000 trees. To find the beetle, you must scan the entire tree for its exit hole, which is a perfect circle, slightly smaller than a dime. Given these tall trees on Commonwealth Avenue, you have to get a good method down so you don't keep scanning the same branches over and over again. And the brisk wind on Saturday made it extra challenging to hold the binocs steady, but we didn't find anything that was cause for concern.

Besides maples, the ALB also likes other hardwoods like birch and elm.

You can imagine that the state of Massachusetts is intent on eradicating this pest. Here's a guide
to identifying it and here is where to file a report. Invasive species, together with habitat fragmentation, pollution, overexploitation and climate change, is one of the main causes of the present biodiversity crisis.

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