I just got an e-postcard from Dr. Jennifer Forman-Orth, our state plant pest survey coordinator (or beetle hunter if you will). Jennifer's avid quest for invasive species makes me wish I had time for an hour-long lunch with her to find out the defining moment she decided that holding an ugly inch-and-a-half long beetle in her hand would be a fun thing to do. Suffice to say, she is always on the lookout for the latest plant pests, plant diseases and weeds that threaten the Commonwealth.
These days she spends a lot of her time educating people about the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), a wood-boring insect recently discovered in Worcester. With a grant that DAR received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jenn has been organizing ALB training sessions across the state. Jenn and her assistant, Sarah Ryan, have set up ALB information tables everywhere from The Big E to Boston’s GreenFest. As Jenn notes, “The more people we can teach to recognize this shiny black and white beetle, and the round exit holes it makes in maples and other hardwood trees, the better chance we have of getting a jump on the situation if it’s ever found elsewhere in Massachusetts.”
Jenn recently organized ALB tree surveys in Boston and Springfield to encourage volunteers in those communities and budding beetle hunters to learn how to monitor the trees in their own neighborhoods. If you think you’ve seen an Asian longhorned beetle or signs of ALB tree damage, you can report it online or call toll-free at 866-702-9938.