D.E.C. Seeks Pool Owners for Invasive-Beetle Survey

The Asian longhorned beetle wreaks havoc on forests and street trees. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

In August, Asian longhorned beetles — exotic, invasive pests that can do serious damage to forest and street trees — emerge from their host trees as adults. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation needs the public's help to be on the lookout.

The D.E.C. is conducting its annual survey and is looking for those with pools to help combat the problem beetle.

“The majority of invasive forest pest infestations are found and reported by members of the public, making citizen science a vital component for protecting our urban and rural forests,” the D.E.C. commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release. “Pool monitoring offers a simple, economical approach to surveying for Asian longhorned beetles and gives the public a chance to take an active role in protecting the trees in their yards and communities.”

People with swimming pools are being asked to periodically check pool filters for any insects that resemble the Asian longhorned beetle. If they are found, photos can be emailed to foresthealth@dec.ny.gov or the dead insects themselves can be mailed to the D.E.C.’s Forest Health Diagnostics Lab for identification, to the attention of Jessica Cancelliere, 108 Game Farm Road, Delmar, N.Y. 12054. 

People without pools can also help by learning how to recognize the beetle, as well as the signs it leaves behind. According to the D.E.C., the Asian longhorned beetles are about 1.5 inches long, black with white spots, and have long black and white antennae.

A wood-boring beetle, it leaves "perfectly round exit holes, about the size of a dime, in branches and tree trunks," the D.E.C. said. "Sawdust-like material called frass will collect on branches and around the base of the tree."

A native of Asia, the beetle was accidentally brought to the United States in wood-packing materials. It attacks a variety of hardwoods, including maples, birches, and willows, and has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of trees across the country.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has dealt with infestations on Staten Island and in Manhattan, Islip, and eastern Queens. 

More information on Asian longhorned beetles and the pool survey, can be found on the D.E.C.'s website.