Protecting Trees in Mass from Invasive Insects

August 13, 2012

At the most recent meeting of the Boston Urban Forest Council, Eric Seaborn of the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation discussed invasive insects and how they threaten our local trees.

The most dangerous and/or prevalent invasive insects include Asian Longhorned Beetles, Emerald Ash Borers, Gypsy Moths, and Hemlock Woolly Adelgids. August is Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month in Massachusetts, and he spent the majority of his talk focusing on the Asian Longhorned Beetles, the most recent invasive threat in our state since its discovery in Worcester in 2008.

The damage these invasives cause to trees in our state range from cosmetic to devastating. All invasives weaken trees, which with climate uncertainty and serious threats from development, can be the difference between success and failure for some of our more iconic and important local tree species, especially the sugar maple (which the Asian Longhorned Beetles especially love and can kill).

Many streets in Worcester have had all of their trees removed due to Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation, and the effect of removing all trees from an entire street has serious impacts on neighborhood cohesion, property values, energy use in homes, wildlife biodiversity, health of residents, and other factors. As Eric pointed out, without beautiful street trees, cracks in the pavement are more noticeable, physically and metaphorically.

While the state is working hard to prevent any further spread of the Asian Longhorned Beetle and minimize damage from other invasive insects, their resources can only go so far. They are hoping to train more people to help spot invasives around the state, creating watch groups of government officials, professionals, non-profit organizations, and residents who can dramatically expand monitoring potential.

If you would like to help keep an eye out for invasives, please visit this website for more information and an amusing video explanation: http://masswoods.net/outsmart.

In other news from the BUFC, another round of Grow Boston Greener grants will be available for organizations in Boston to help plant trees, including fruit trees! Stay tuned for more info in September.

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