DEM, volunteers hunt for Asian longhorned beetle
Volunteers scoured Goddard Memorial State Park with binoculars Tuesday looking for an invasive species, the Asian long-horned beetle.
"The beetles actually kill the trees, they don't have any natural predators so they're allowed to breed out of control basically on these trees," Cindy Kwolek of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
The beetle larva burrow into trees eating the wood and killing the trees from the inside out before tunneling back out as adults a year or two later. Infestations spread by moving firewood from state to state, so that activity in New England is strongly discouraged.
"An infestation would really hurt the state of Rhode Island because a lot of our trees are maple trees and they attack those the most," said volunteer Lori Percivalle.
The Asian long-horned beetle has never been spotted in Rhode Island but it has been spotted in nearby Worcester, Mass. and it cost taxpayers a lot of money there. Taxpayers had to pay for the removal of more than 30,000 trees destroyed by this invasive species back in 2008.
"Here it would be very expensive, I'm sure the state would have to pay a lot of money to have all these people come and take these trees out and destroy them all," Percivalle said.
"I'm volunteering because I've just learned how devastating it can be, how much trees have to be taken out even if it is a little area that's affected."
As of now, Rhode Island remains unaffected but the DEM wants you to help them keep an eye out so it stays that way.