Public Asked to Check Trees for Invasive Species in August

Posted July 27, 2020 at 7:50 pm by

1. Inva­sive Long­horned Bee­tle 2. Emer­ald Ash Bor­er 3. Spot­ted Lantern­fly 4. Asian Giant Hor­net — Con­tributed photos

Olympia—Through­out August, the Wash­ing­ton Inva­sive Species Coun­cil and the Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources (DNR) are ask­ing the pub­lic to take 10 min­utes to check trees in their com­mu­ni­ties for inva­sive insects.

August is the peak time of year that wood-bor­ing insects are most often spot­ted out­side of trees.

State and fed­er­al agen­cies do a fan­tas­tic job at pre­vent­ing the intro­duc­tion of inva­sive species to the Unit­ed States, but occa­sion­al­ly some slip through,” said Justin Bush, exec­u­tive coor­di­na­tor of the Wash­ing­ton Inva­sive Species Coun­cil. “When a new inva­sive species is intro­duced, we need to know as quick­ly as pos­si­ble so we can stop its spread.”

What’s at Risk? Inva­sive species are non-native organ­isms that include plants, ani­mals and dis­eases. When intro­duced to a new envi­ron­ment, they do not have nat­ur­al preda­tors or dis­eases to keep their growth in check. Once estab­lished, they may dam­age the econ­o­my, envi­ron­ment, recre­ation and some­times human health.

Inva­sive insects impact our healthy forests and, in turn, destroy tim­ber we man­age that pro­vides fund­ing for schools, local ser­vices and our coun­ties. The dam­age also increas­es fire risk and restricts recre­ation oppor­tu­ni­ties,” said Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz. “Trees play an impor­tant role in our state econ­o­my and pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits from clean air to habi­tat for wildlife and healthy water­ways that sup­port salmon and oth­er fish. Tree loss from inva­sive species is some­thing that we can avoid by stop­ping the spread of inva­sive insects. The pub­lic plays a key role in this effort as our eyes on the ground.”

What to Look For. State offi­cials urge the pub­lic to be espe­cial­ly aware of four inva­sive insects dur­ing their tree checks.

Inva­sive Long­horned Bee­tle: The lar­vae of this large bee­tle feeds on and in the wood of a tree. When the bee­tle becomes adult, it emerges through holes that weak­en the tree fur­ther. The bee­tle is extreme­ly destruc­tive to hard­wood trees. While it is not known to be estab­lished in Wash­ing­ton today, it has been found mul­ti­ple times in the past. A swift response stopped the spread and poten­tial­ly mil­lions of dol­lars in damages.

Emer­ald Ash Bor­er: This small, wood-bor­ing bee­tle attacks and kills ash trees. The lar­vae bur­row under the tree’s bark and eat the sap­wood. Once dam­aged, the sap­wood can’t trans­port water and nutri­ents, caus­ing the leaves and tree to die grad­u­al­ly. While not yet known to be in Wash­ing­ton, it is spread­ing west­ward from the east­ern Unit­ed States.

Spot­ted Lantern­fly: This pierc­ing, suck­ing insect feeds on sap from a vari­ety of trees includ­ing apples, cher­ries, grapes, plums and wal­nut, and also on hops. While not yet found in Wash­ing­ton, the lantern­fly has been inter­cept­ed in Cal­i­for­nia as a hitch­hik­er on goods com­ing from the east­ern Unit­ed States where it is established.

Asian Giant Hor­net: Not all insects that you could find in a tree are tree-killers, but they cause oth­er prob­lems. This hor­net has been found in What­com Coun­ty and kills hon­ey bees. Though not typ­i­cal­ly aggres­sive to humans, it will attack any­thing that threat­ens its colony, which usu­al­ly nest in the ground. It can sting mul­ti­ple times and has pow­er­ful ven­om that can inflict seri­ous injury, or in some cas­es, death.

How You Can Participate:

Search Your Trees and Report Sight­ings.We’re ask­ing peo­ple to take 10 min­utes to search the trees in their yards and neigh­bor­hoods,” Bush said. “If you find a sus­pect­ed inva­sive insect, take a pic­ture and send us infor­ma­tion on the Wash­ing­ton Inva­sives mobile app or on our Web site. It’s quick and easy and we’ll con­nect you with orga­ni­za­tions that can help.”

The pho­tographs of the insect should show enough detail that an expert can ver­i­fy it. Include an object, such as a coin or pen­cil, next to the insect to indi­cate the insect’s size.

There are species, which aren’t a prob­lem, that look like inva­sive insects so report but don’t kill the sus­pect­ed invad­er, Bush said.

Take Sim­ple Action to Pre­vent Spread. There are sim­ple actions that any­one can take to avoid intro­duc­ing and spread­ing inva­sive insects.

·       Buy fire­wood where you’ll burn it or gath­er it on site when per­mit­ted. When mov­ing fire­wood you might also be mov­ing inva­sive insects hid­ing there.

·       When trav­el­ing local­ly or mov­ing to a new area, check your bags and box­es to make sure they are insect free. Inva­sive insects, which can be in any life stage from lar­vae to adult, can tag along eas­i­ly in bags and box­es and on items that have been stored out­side or in your garage. Don’t move a pest.

Become a “Pest Ready” Com­mu­ni­ty. Ensure your com­mu­ni­ty is ready for new inva­sive species detec­tion. Offi­cials have pub­lished a play­book to help local gov­ern­ments and state and fed­er­al respon­ders pre­pare for pest out­breaks through self-assess­ments and rec­om­mend­ed actions.

To suc­cess­ful­ly pre­vent and stop inva­sive species requires a whole com­mu­ni­ty approach,” Com­mis­sion­er Franz said. “Tak­ing just a few min­utes to check the trees in your yard can go a long way to ensur­ing that the forests we all love today are still here tomor­row.

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Categories: Animals, Around Here, Nature

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