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Gardening and More: Pool owners can help save trees from invasive beetle species

SINK OR SWIM-The Asian longhorned beetle is an invasive species that kills trees. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wants to know if they have arrived in our area, and they need your help. Check your pool filter for Asian longhorned beetles and report your findings during the DEC’s second annual Swimming Pool Survey. Photo courtesy of Jessica Cancelliere of the New York State DEC Forest Health Program.
The Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive species that can cause serious damage to trees including the sugar maple, has been spotted in the New York City area. Have they infested our area, too?

Pool owners may be the first to know—the insect might have been captured in your pool filter.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking help from pool owners, during its second annual Asian Longhorned Beetle Swimming Pool Survey, taking place now through Aug. 30.

When you clean your pool filter, they want you to look for Asian longhorned beetles and let them know what you find.

Even if you don’t have a pool, you can submit photos of suspected Asian longhorned beetles to

This is the time of year when Asian longhorned beetles become adults, emerge from the trees they are infesting and become active, outside those trees. With citizens involved in looking for this pest, there is a better chance of finding new infestations early, which will help DEC and other state and federal agencies focus their efforts to eliminate infestations.

Asian longhorned beetles have killed tens of thousands of trees, across the nation, particularly maple trees in New York City; Long Island; New Jersey; Chicago, Ill.; Worcester, Mass. and Clermont, Ohio.

To participate in the Swimming Pool Survey, contact Jessica Cancelliere at the New York State DEC Forest Health Program at (518) 810-1609 or and she will provide you with a sheet to help you identify the insects you collect.

Then, at least once a week, or when you clean your pool, check the debris collected in your filter and skimmers for the Asian longhorned beetle. Take a picture of any insect you think might be an Asian longhorned beetle. Once a week, choose the insect that looks most like an Asian longhorned beetle and email a photo of it to

Freeze the insect in a plastic container until DEC staff respond. That will typically take about a week. Staff will either instruct you to discard the insect or give you instructions on mailing it, delivering it or arranging for pickup.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the Asian longhorned beetle was first discovered in the U.S. in 1996. It probably arrived here inside wood packing material from Asia. The insect has no natural predators.

Trees that are at risk include ash, birch, elm, goldenrain tree, hackberry, horsechestnut, katsura, London planetree, maple, mimosa, mountain ash, poplar and willow.

“Its greatest impacts may be on maple trees,” said Dr. Robert Rabaglia of the U.S. Forest Service.

“The economic and ecological health of the forests in the Northeast is threatened by this beetle,” the expert explained.

“Maples grace our urban forests, are prized for their colorful fall foliage and maple syrup projects, and are a prominent component of the northern forests that range from southeastern Canada, through New England. to the Great Lakes.”

The beetle bores through the tissues that carry water and nutrients throughout the tree, which causes the tree to starve, weaken and eventually die. Once a tree is infested, it must be removed.

Help our trees by being on the lookout for the African Longhorned Beetle invader species and participating in the DEC survey.

Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email


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