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DEM to Tag Trees in Popular Parks and Recreation Areas That Are at Risk for Infestation of Invasive Forest Pests

PROVIDENCE - Beginning next week, visitors to several popular parks and recreation areas in Rhode Island will find bright orange and yellow tags with images of invasive forest insects hanging from maple and ash trees. Staff from the Department of Environmental Management's Division of Agriculture will be tagging several trees in selected parks from July 14 through July 25 as part of a public outreach effort to raise awareness of the risk of invasive forest pests. Trees being tagged are those species that are at risk of being infested by Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) or Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The tree tags will inform the public of the tree species, which pest to look for, a website for more information, and contact information for DEM's Division of Agriculture. Tags will be attached to the trees with blue environmental flagging tape.

Tree tagging activity will take place as follows:

Monday July 14 - Newport (locations TBD) Tuesday, July 15 - Blackstone Boulevard, Providence; Fargnoli Park, Providence; Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln; Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick Thursday, July 17 - Snake Den State Park, Johnston Tuesday, July 22 - Browning Mill Pond in Arcadia Management Area, Exeter; Wilcox Park, Westerly Friday, July 25 - Roger Williams Park, Providence

Early detection of these invasive forest pests is the key to a successful eradication program in the event they infest Rhode Island. Rhode Island is at risk for infestation because of its proximity to infested areas. ALB has been found in Worcester, Massachusetts and EAB has been found in counties of both Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. These insects pose a serious threat to forest ecosystems across Rhode Island.

ALB is an invasive insect that came to the United States in wooden shipping crates from China and Korea about 15 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. The ALB 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.

EAB is the newest wood-boring pest to be found in the Northeast region. It was first discovered in Berkshire County, Massachusetts in August 2012. Although EAB only attacks ash trees, it can kill a mature ash in just a few years, and moves very quickly from one tree to the next, migrating across states.

Having these tree tags out at local recreational areas will inform the public of the trees at risk, who to contact if they see and suspect similar pests while outdoors, and provide a website with more information. DEM requests that residents capture the insect, if seen, so a positive identification can be made. Public awareness is an important factor in early detection, as it will be more likely that pests will be detected at the first sign of infestation if more people are aware of them.

The tree tags will remain on the trees from mid-July through the end of August, which is the time ALB adult beetles are most active. EAB adults are active from May through August, although some signs of EAB are detectable throughout the year.

For more information on the tree tagging activity, please contact Cynthia Kwolek at 401-949-1770 or by email at Cynthia.kwolek@dem.ri.gov. For more information about ALB or EAB, please visit www.asianlonghornedbeetle.info or www.emeraldashborer.info.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management

Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/

Release date: 07-10-2014

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