Contacts: Colleen Teerling, (207) 287- 3096
Jeanne Curran, (207) 287-3156
Maine Forest Service to Hold Bark-Peeling Sessions
(January 10, 2012)
AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine Forest Service entomologists, using a method reminiscent of an old-fashioned husking bee, will hold two bark-peeling workshops later this month to look for evidence of the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect threatening Maine’s forests.
Ash-tree owners from central Maine, who earlier this year created tree traps to look for emerald ash borer (EAB), will bring wood samples to the workshops to be peeled by volunteers and examined for signs of the dangerous insect, said Colleen Teerling, Maine Forest Service entomologist.
“We’re going to work with them to peel the tree bolts,” Teerling said. “We’ll teach them to do it properly and how to search for emerald ash borer.”
The workshops will be held Tuesday, Jan. 17 and Jan. 24, at the Maine Forest Service Southern Region Headquarters, Bolton Hill, Augusta, ME.
Media representatives are asked visit 10:30-11 a.m. during the Jan. 17 workshop.
EAB has killed millions of ash trees across the nation and threatens all of Maine’s ash resource, from individual ash shade trees in yards and lining town streets to stands of white, green and black ash in the forests. The invasive insect has been found in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
Some treatment is possible to prolong the life of affected trees, but in general, after a tree is infested by the beetle, it dies. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 25 million trees in the U.S. have been affected by the emerald ash borer.
The exotic insect has not yet been found in Maine, and the Maine Forest Service (MFS), under the Maine Department of Conservation, has been taking steps to prevent its entering the state by banning out-of-state firewood. For the past three years, the Maine Forest Service also has used sophisticated detection methods, including bug traps and bio-surveillance, to survey Maine’s ash resource for the possible presence of EAB.
Earlier this year, the Maine Forest Service asked land owners to volunteer to make tree traps for EAB by girdling a tree, or stripping bark from around an ash tree. Girdling the tree causes the tree to become stressed and release chemicals attractive to the EAB.
About 10 owners, mostly from central Maine, created the traps on their trees, which will be cut down into 3-foot lengths, or bolts, Teerling said. Next week, the tree owners will each bring four to 10 bolts to be examined, the MFS entomologist said, adding that she expected workers to have about 30 to 60 bolts to look at during the daylong workshops.
The tree-girdling project grew out of the efforts of the Black Ash Task Force, a collaboration of the Maine Forest Service, University of Maine, Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance and the U.S. Forest Service, Teerling said. The bark peelers will include the tree owners, MFS foresters, members of the Penobscot Nation, and other task force representatives, she said.
The bark peeling is an elaborate process, Teerling said. It involves using a draw knife to slice the bark into multiple layers down to the tree cambium, or living layer. That is where EAB, if it is present, will show up, she explained.
The bark must be peeled off slowly, “so you don’t just dig down into the wood and destroy any evidence,” the entomologist said.
The volunteers will be looking for EAB “galleries,” Teerling continued, “basically little tunnels that emerald ash borer makes under the bark. They may be only an inch or two long if there is a new infestation.”
The tree-girdling, bark-peeling detection method has been used in other places, such as New York and other states that already have EAB, Teerling said.
“We haven’t found emerald ash borer with other methods we’ve been using, but this is a new method,” she said. “The earlier that we find an infestation, the better are our chances to contain it and deal with it.”
The MFS entomologist said she was hopeful that the invasive insect wouldn’t be found during the workshops.
For more information about EAB, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/InvasiveThreats.htm
For more information about the Maine Forest Service, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/index.shtml