Press-Republican

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August 18, 2009

APA warned to be pro-active on insects

RAY BROOK — The threat to northern forests from the Asian long-horned beetle and emerald ash borer comes with a high price.

Beyond destruction of all ash species — white, green and black — an infestation of emerald ash borer alone has potential to cost the timber industry $25.1 billion nationwide.

Nearly 114 million board feet of wood would disappear, according to research presented to the Adirondack Park Agency recently.



ACTION URGED

Commissioners heard from one of the nation’s top invasive-species scientists.

“Prevention and getting on the thing fast is an incredible high-value, up-front investment,” said Dr. Otto Doering III, a professor at Purdue University who sits on the U.S. Department of Interior’s Invasive Species Advisory Committee.

“If you get behind the curve on the thing, you are dead meat.”

Doering defined invasive species as a “wicked” problem, one not readily solved by scientific data alone.

“You have to get on the problem before battle lines are fully drawn.”

It is very difficult for government bodies to be proactive in that sense, he said.



INSECT MOVEMENT

Commissioners then heard from APA Forester Larry Phillips, who described the foreign insects and the destruction they can cause.

Both came into the country on wood-packing materials.

The Asian long-horned beetle is an inch and a half long with shiny shell and white spots all over it, he said, sometimes mistaken here for a white-spotted pine sawyer.

The difference, Phillips said, is the pine sawyer’s hard shell is dull, not shiny.

The emerald ash borer, green in color, is very small; it fits in the center of a penny with room to spare.

While infestations of the Asian beetle can be reversed, Phillips said, the emerald borer is not eradicable.

Areas surrounding New York City are quarantined due to Asian beetle infestation, with new outbreaks found in parts of Massachusetts.

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