August is time to check your trees

August is National Tree Check Month, the time to make sure your trees are healthy, strong and pest-free.

Trees serve as wind breaks and sun shields, they muffle noise and block unsightly views. They help conserve energy and water, prevent soil erosion, provide wildlife habitat and clean the air.

“For all trees do for us, this month we’re asking you to take 10 minutes to check yours,” said Megan Abraham, director of DNR Entomology & Plant Pathology.

The biggest tree threat in Indiana is the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), an invasive pest that attacks over a dozen types of trees. ALB can devastate a community’s trees, so the DNR urges landowners to examine trees now.

ALB’s preferred host tree is maple, so check those first. Look for round exit holes, chew marks in bark, wood dust, dead branches, and tunneling in cut wood or fallen branches. Also look for adult beetles. The beetle is about 1 inch to 1.5 inches long, with six legs and a shiny, jet-black body with white spots and two long black-and-white antennae.

Once a tree is infested, it must be removed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and partners have cut down more than 184,000 infested trees in Massachusetts, Ohio and New York. Successful eradication programs were completed in Illinois in 2008 and New Jersey in 2013.

“Early detection is the key,” Abraham said.

One person can make a big difference in the battle against ALB. In 2010 in Boston, a groundskeeper noticed an exit hole in a maple tree. Fortunately, only six trees were infested with ALB. Thanks to that one person’s report, Boston is now ALB-free.

If you see something suspicious, report your findings by calling 1-866-702-9938, or report online at AsianLonghornedBeetle.com.

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