Bad beetle prompts USDA to designate August as Tree Check Month - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Bad beetle prompts USDA to designate August as Tree Check Month

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A foreign bug infestation has prompted federal officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate August as Tree Check Month.

The Asian longhorned beetle first appeared in the United States around 1996 in New York state. Authorities believe the beetle came over in wood packing material from China. The invasive beetle has also shown up in Western Massachusetts. Worcester and the surrounding area has been under a type of quarantine for a few years. State officials estimated nearly 40,000 trees had to be cut down and ground into mulch.

On Wednesday, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Gary Woodward said the beetle has no known predators and can decimate large areas if allowed to thrive. He said the best way to stop the spread is to keep wood and plant products local.

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation said outside firewood was not allowed at any of their campgrounds around the state. They provide kiln dried wood for sale, which can't be removed from the campground.

Woodward and DCR officials said the best rule of thumb for firewood is to buy it where you burn it.

Massachusetts and neighboring Connecticut have rules concerning the transportation of firewood into and out of the state.

Authorities said residents should contact the USDA immediately if they believe they have seen the beetle. Experts warned there are other native species that resemble the Asian longhorned beetle, but they would rather investigate a false positive than not know.

Residents were urged to call toll-free at 866-265-0301 or 877-STOP-ALB

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