Field Trip to Worcester MA
By Annalena Barrett
Worcester Massachusetts is now in its fifth year of fighting the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and so far, they’ve cut down about thirty thousand trees. One illustration of how the eradication efforts have been paying off in how many beetles are bring found. Last year, thirteen beetles were found, but only one has surfaced in 2013, at least so far. Recently, I had the privilege of taking a fieldtrip to Worcester with some representatives of the Department of Conservation and Recreation to see the work happening on the Asian longhorned beetle.
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We arrived just a few days after that one beetle I just mentioned had been found and were actually able to get up close and personal with a living Asian longhorned beetle. In general, I like bugs and did not expect to be unsettled by this encounter, but let me tell you, this beetle was huge and creepy enough to make my hair stand on end.
After this exciting but unpleasant encounter, we headed off clad in hardhats to see some tree removal. Everyone took turns using binoculars to try and spot the ALB damage signs in the upper branches of the trees, not the easiest task to be sure. From there, we got to see some tree surveyors in action a few blocks away. One person was upside-down in the tree looking at every inch of every branch, while another showed us what equipment, knots, and movements were needed to get into a tree and survey it.
The rest of the day was spent walking through all the essential steps of the eradication program from the lot where the city’s trees were brought to be chipped and rechipped to ensure it was no longer inhabitable by the ALB, all the way to the reforestation efforts. It was tremendous to see how hard people are working to get Worcester looking leafy and green again.