Invasive Beetle and Borer: "We're Pretty Much Surrounded"

Jun 28, 2013

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is once again urging summer campers not to move firewood from outside the state. That’s to keep from spreading a couple of tree-killing invasive insects, which, so far, haven’t shown up in Rhode Island. But this year, they’re closer than ever.

Two kinds of nasty bugs could cross the state line in a seemingly innocent bundle of firewood. One is the Asian longhorned beetle, last detected as close as Worcester in 2008. They attack 11 different species of hardwood trees, with a particular fondness for maples. Even though there’s no way to treat an infestation other than chopping down the sick tree, they’ve managed to stay out of the Ocean State. But DEM scientist Liz Lopes-Duguay  says the other bug is closing in.

A male Asian longhorned beetle
Credit UVM / USDA

“And the emerald ash borer, last year, in both Connecticut and Massachusetts was detected," said Duguay. "And recently, again in another county in the state of Connecticut. And this year, also in the state of New Hampshire it’s been detected. So, we’re pretty much surrounded right now.”

Borers attack ash trees, which Lopes-Duguay says aren’t as abundant naturally in Rhode Island but have been planted extensively in towns and cities. If you spot one of these outlawed bugs, Lopes-Duguay says you should try to capture it and then call the DEM.

You can report sightings of the Asian longhorned beetle or the emerald ash borer here.

The emerald ash borer is an iridescent green and smaller than a penny.
Credit USDA