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“Beetle Busting” Event at Sebago Lake Focuses on Invasive Species
August 5, 2010
Press contact: Karen Coluzzi, (207) 287-7551
AUGUSTA, Maine – They’re small and highly destructive, they could seriously damage Maine’s forests, and they may already be here.
The Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer have destroyed thousands of acres of trees in other states, and the Maine Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Maine Forest Service (MFS), and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands are teaming up to help keep the invasive beetles out of Maine.
The state agencies will hold a special survey and education day, called “Beetle Busting at Sebago,” next week at Sebago Lake State Park to tell Maine residents about the threats posed by these two invasive bugs. Families and children will be able to participate in fun crafts and outdoor activities and to “meet the beetles,” while volunteers will take part in a survey of park trees to look for the two species.
Park campers also will be able to view “Bugged,” a documentary by a Massachusetts filmmaker, about the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). The film will get its first official state screening on the evening before the beetle event, according to state officials.
“We thought this would be an effective way to get the word out as far and wide as possible about these invasive species and to survey the trees at Sebago Lake,” Karen Coluzzi, Maine Department of Agriculture entomologist, said. “This is our first formal survey of ALB host trees this year, which we are turning into a public outreach event.”
“It’s very important to get the public engaged in this process,” Dave Struble, MFS state entomologist, said. “The Maine Department of Agriculture sees this, and we see it, too. We want to educate the public so they’ll be sensitized to the issue and report what they find.”
“We’re the closest state campground to the outbreaks in Massachusetts,” Park Manager Andy Haskell of Sebago Lake State Park said, noting particularly the ALB findings in Boston. “A lot of our campers are from Massachusetts. We’re going to reach a lot of people with this event.”
The details of the event are:
--“Bugged” will be shown, 8-9:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 13, at the park amphitheatre for park campers. Experts will be on hand to answer questions.
The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), a native of China, is a large, black-and-white, wood-boring beetle that can destroy such trees as maple, birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, elm, and ash. It can spread through the importation of out-of-state firewood, now banned in Maine. There currently are ALB infestations being eradicated in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and most recently Massachusetts, including Worcester and Boston. The Asian longhorned beetle has not been confirmed in Maine.
The emerald ash borer, a metallic green beetle from Asia, destroys ash trees and threatens Maine’s American Indian basket-making tradition. Though not found in Maine, it has been found in nearby Canadian provinces as well as New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The species also can be brought in by firewood.
Sebago Lake State Park, one of 12 state campgrounds and the most popular, is an area susceptible to the two species because “it is heavily visited by out-of-state campers, and historically, firewood was allowed to be brought in,” Coluzzi said. It makes the park a good location for an outreach event, she said.
The MDA and MFS began a major educational program last year to bring awareness to the general public about ALB, including the dangers of moving firewood. The agencies have collaborated on conducting train-the-trainer workshops to build a cadre of volunteers to spread the message. They also work together in developing and distributing outreach materials, as well as “appearances” by the beetles – staff in costumes at outreach events. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for eradication of ALB, Coluzzi said, and this year, MDA received $75,000 in funding for survey and outreach, which it is sharing with MFS.
“A lot of people have been hearing about the beetles, especially since there have been new discoveries in Massachusetts,” Coluzzi said. When Maine residents and visitors do learn about this invasive species, “they are very responsive,” she continued. “All the new finds have been made by the general public. The more eyes we have out there, the more likely the beetles will be detected. Early detection is very important to any successful eradication effort.”
Struble agreed that public awareness is both crucial and a model that has worked effectively with other bug species that threaten the state forests, such as hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA).
“We can look to what has been working with HWA,” the MFS entomologist said. “We know that Maine residents and visitors are concerned because they call us about HWA. They want to be involved.”
Survey teams of two to four people will include trained volunteers Coluzzi said, adding that she hoped to have five to six teams conducting the park survey. State staff will provide an orientation at 9:30 a.m. and guide the teams until noon. Using binoculars, they will inspect trees in the park and campground. Those with canoes or kayaks will be able to survey from the water, she said. Preliminary findings from the survey will be available by 1 p.m., she said.
A tree identification walk led by a MFS forester will be offered at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for all park visitors. At 10 a.m., games and crafts will be offered by MFS staff interns, plus an appearance by the beetles.
Lunch will be provided for surveyors and volunteers. Poland Spring will provide water for all event participants. Coluzzi said anyone who wants to volunteer or to participate in the survey should call (207) 287-7551.
For more information about the Asian longhorned beetle, go to: www.albmaine.org
For more information on the emerald ash borer, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/EAB_ID.htm
For more information about Maine state parks and park events, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com
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