Peace Corps Volunteers receiving training on screwworm surveillance program from APHIS employees in Panama.
Over the past few months, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), as part of the U.S. Panama Commission for Eradication of Screwworm, has started to partner with Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama to enhance their field operations surveillance program, and outreach and awareness efforts for New World screwworm. These operations are being carried out among the rural population of Panama, which is a critical component for maintaining the screwworm-free barrier.
The New World screwworm are parasites to warm-blooded animals, including humans. Female screwworm are attracted to and lay their eggs in exposed flesh wounds. After eggs hatch, larvae burrow and feed on flesh, causing severe tissue damage and may even be lethal to the host. Screwworm was eradicated from the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Curacao and Central America using the Sterile Insect Technique: Sterile male flies are released in massive numbers to mate with females in field populations. The mated female flies then lay non-viable eggs, leading to a decrease and subsequent eradication of the screwworm field fly population. The Commission is maintaining the screwworm barrier at the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, through preventive release of sterile flies and field surveillance, in order to mitigate the risk of screwworm northward migration from South America. Read more »
Retiring APHIS State Plant Health Director for Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island Patty Douglass inspects ALB damaged wood in Massachusetts.
One of the things I consider a highlight of my career and that I will always remember is our successful response to the July 2010 detection of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in Boston, Massachusetts. As I attended the May 12 ceremony commemorating the eradication of the ALB infestation in Boston and listened to the speakers share their thoughts about what it took to get us there, I had a deep sense of appreciation for the partnership among the state and federal cooperators who worked together to bring us to that day. It was swift action and continued diligence that protected Boston’s trees from further destruction.
APHIS and its cooperators were able to accomplish the goal of eradicating ALB in Boston in less than 4 years. Thanks also go to a community member who reported the infestation early. That early detection and report resulted in the loss of only 6 infested trees.
But as I celebrate our first victory over the invasive pest in Massachusetts, I am compelled to ask you to remain vigilant in inspecting your trees regularly for signs of the beetle and report any suspicious damage to your State Plant Health Director. Read more »
At the APHIS Otis Lab in Massachusetts, employees conduct research for several APHIS forest pest emergency response and eradication programs, including Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), Asian gypsy moth (AGM), emerald ash borer (EAB), and Sirex noctilio woodwasp.
In addition to the existing science-based eradication protocols for fighting an Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infestation, such as surveying trees and removing infested ones, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) relies on on-going research to not only improve current protocols, but also to develop new ones.
APHIS’s Center for Plant Health Science and Technology continues research to develop attractant-baited traps designed to lure and capture adult insects. The attractants include plant odors and pheromones, which are naturally occurring chemicals created and used by insects to communicate with each other. These attractants are used to lure beetles to traps that are hung on trees that the beetle will attack. Traps can aid in early detection of insects in areas where survey staff may not be working. When the traps are checked by staff members and a beetle is found, nearby trees may be surveyed to determine if they are infested. This year, the traps will be placed in the spring and early summer in strategic locations in all three ALB-affected states: New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. APHIS is also working with the U.S. Forest Service and Penn State University on their research with similar ALB traps. Read more »
Two Asian longhorned beetles on maple tree
Today is National Maple Syrup Day! So, what does maple syrup have in common with an invasive insect? Well, if the insect is the Asian longhorned beetle, then they both can come from maple trees. Obviously, we want the maple syrup and not the invasive beetle. But who cares? And why should anyone care? Well, I care and here’s why:
Not only do I work for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency that is actively fighting known infestations of Asian longhorned beetle in three different states, but I also am a native of Vermont. Read more »
Asian longhorned beetle and "egg site." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS
This past March, almost 11 years after being found in New Jersey, federal and state agriculture officials are finally able to say that the state’s long-running battle against the non-native Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is over.
New Jersey is the second state to declare itself free from the invasive tree-killing insect. The beetle was successfully eradicated from Illinois in 2008, and the ALB-regulated area of Islip, New York, also achieved eradication in 2011. So, getting rid of this “hungry pest” is possible. That’s good news, because, depending on where you live, 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost to ALB. Read more »
ALB damage featuring tunneling and exit holes on cut trees
Imagining our communities without trees is hard to fathom. Unfortunately, there is an insect that threatens the trees we love – the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). It’s an invasive insect that feeds on certain species of hardwood trees, eventually killing them. Since its discovery in the United States, the beetle has caused tens-of-thousands of trees to be destroyed in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and most recently in Ohio. Read more »