Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office – Four state agencies and a university are asking residents to check trees in their yards for harmful bugs as part of the national Tree Check Month in August.
August is the peak time of year to find invasive bugs like Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer and other aggressive wood-boring insects.
“Invasive insects can destroy Washington’s forests.” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “In Washington, more than 22 million acres of forests are at risk from invasive insects and disease. We need everyone’s assistance to prevent these damages in Washington State.”
The Washington Invasive Species Council, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and Washington State University Extension are asking residents to take ten minutes to go outside and inspect their trees. Invasive wood boring insects typically emerge from trees in August. Experts also suggests that all pool owners should check their pool skimmers and filters for the invasive bugs. Emerging adult insects often end up as debris collected in pool filters.
If residents see any invasive insects or signs, they should to take photographs and report the find immediately at www.invasivespecies.wa.gov/report.shtml, where they can get an online reporting form or download the free WA Invasives mobile app.
“Initial infestations are difficult to detect, so early detection and reporting is critical to rapidly manage new populations,” Bush said. “Our state needs help finding new outbreaks so they can be contained quickly and eliminated.”
“Early detection and rapid response is the more effective and cost-efficient approach to managing new invasive species, whether because we have the opportunity to eradicate it or because we can take steps to quickly limit their impact,” said Dr. Chris Looney of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “Our own data show that the general public is an important source of first detections.”
First indications of invasive insect damage to trees include sudden die back or death among a group of like trees that are otherwise vigorous and healthy. If you see this, investigate further and look for sawdust, exit holes or actual beetles. You might help find one of these invasive species:
The Asian longhorned beetle is a large shiny black beetle with white spots. At this time of the year, adult beetles emerge from trees leaving large, circular exit holes about 3/8 inch in diameter. These beetles feed on many species, but maples are one of their favorites. Washington has a number of look-alike native beetles and it takes a trained eye to distinguish them, so residents are asked to provide any suspect beetles to one of the agencies mentioned above. If you see numerous shallow holes arranged in rows, this could be the result of sapsucker feeding and not a serious concern. More details on signs and symptoms can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/resources/pests-diseases/asian-longhorned-beetle/Find-It.
The Emerald ash borer is a shiny, half-inch long, green metallic beetle. Adults begin flying in June and will continue through August as they emerge from ash trees, their primary host. Exit holes are about a quarter-inch wide and have a distinctive D-shape. A potential sign of an infested ash tree is heavy wood pecker feeding activity, as they search for larvae by removing the outer bark. More information can be found at www.emeraldashborer.info/.
Need help recognizing suspicious beetles?
“Each county has a WSU Extension Office and Master Gardener Program that can help identify suspect beetles,” said Todd Murray, director for Washington State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resource Unit. “And if they can’t, they know the specialist to send it to. Master Gardeners are often the first ones to recognize and report a newly introduced insect pest. Master Gardener clinics receive a large number of insect samples at this time of year.”
“When it comes to the health of your trees, a few minutes checking them for insects can make a big difference,” Bush said.