January 8

Ice storm fallout: Possibility of dangerous insects, Maine entomologist says

Maine Forest Service expert warns landowners whose trees were damaged in the ice storm to watch for Asian longhorn beetles, falling branches.

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — They’re on Maine’s doorstep, if they’re not here, undetected, already. And they want to eat or otherwise destroy your trees.

And the sooner Asian longhorn beetles can be detected, the less impact the tree-killing invasive insects will have on Maine’s forests, a state entomologist told members of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine gathered at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show Wednesday.

Allison Kanoti, an entomologist for the Maine Forest Service, said landowners hit by the recent ice storm have a golden opportunity, especially if they have maple trees — an Asian longhorn beetle favorite snack and dwelling — that fell to the storm.

“If you had ice storm damage, you should take the opportunity to survey those storm damaged trees, for Asian longhorn beetles,” Kanoti said on the second day of the three-day 73rd annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show at the Augusta Civic Center. She warned landowners to be careful to make sure they don’t get hit by falling trees damaged by the ice storm themselves.

She said pool filters could be a good place to check for them, too.

The good news is if someone finds one, it’ll be Maine’s first. But the destructive bugs with a penchant for hardwoods such as maple, birch, ash, and willow, have been reported for some time in western Massachusetts.

“One of the reasons we’re concerned with it is it is basically at our doorstep,” Kanoti said. “Another reason (early detection is important) is this pest is considered eradicable. The earlier we detect it, the less resources we’ll have to spend on finding it and trying to eradicate it.”

She said New Jersey successfully eradicated Asian longhorn beetles, and the city of Boston is soon expected eradicate the wood-boring beetle, which is believed to have come to the United States in wood packing material used to import goods from Asian countries.

She directed landowners, farmers and other attendees to informational websites for more information about the pests and how to identify them: albmaine.org and maine.gov/alb.

The beetles are glossy black with white spots on their wings, and antennae at least the length of their body which have black and white bands. Females chew into trees and deposit their eggs. The larvae feed in the tree for a year, on the bark and leaves, and later on the sapwood of the tree just under the bark, then bore out as adults, leaving round exit holes.

Kanoti also described threats posed to Maine’s forests including the emerald ash borer, the hemlock woolly adelgid, winter moth, and spruce budworm.

She assured landowners forests are resilient.

Kanoti directed attendees to a “bug watch booth” in the auditorium of the Civic Center for help identifying the various pests.

The booth was one of more than 110 exhibits at the annual free agricultural show expected to draw about 5,000 people and continuing Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Keith Edwards - 621-5647 kedwards@centralmaine.com


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